Scrap QOF for this year, says top GP

A leading GP has called on ministers to abandon this year's QOF and use the money to ease winter pressures after an agreement to dramatically shrink the scheme from 2014.

Dr Peter Swinyard: scrap this year's QOF
Dr Peter Swinyard: scrap this year's QOF

Dr Peter Swinyard, chairman of the Family Doctor Association, said money allocated for the 2013/14 QOF should instead be ploughed into global sum funding for GP practices.

Speaking at the NHS Alliance annual conference in London, Dr Swinyard hailed the GPC’s renegotiation of QOF, which will see 238 QOF points shifted into core funding from April next year, as an ‘outstanding success’.

‘It has kept in it the things we must make sure everyone does some of, and it’s taken away some of the things we are going to do anyway.’

But he asked: 'How many of us in general practice are frustrated that for the next four months we are  going to be asking people coming in in wheelchairs how many hours a week they spend cycling? And how many diabetics aged 85 who are widowers we are going to be asking if they can get an erection?

‘It’s about time the government said: "OK, we got it wrong this year, let’s just abandon this year’s QOF. Let’s put the money into general practice." And let you have the headroom to do what you need to do - that’s our winter pressures money.’

NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon said QOF was ‘incredibly important when it started’. In its early days, he said, QOF was ‘something to be proud of'. But he said: 'It has become a monster.’

Responding to a question from GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash about how GPs could free up time to innovate in general practice, RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker called on all GP organisations to work together.

It is ‘critical’, she said, to raise the issue of workload pressure and funding, and called on people to back the college’s campaign for general practice to receive 11% of the total NHS budget across the UK by 2017.

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the new contract agreement would ‘resurrect a sense of professionalism’ in general practice.

QOF, he said, had reached a ‘ridiculous stage’, and was excluding disease areas. ‘What we have now done is put many more conditions on parity, allowing GPs to focus on the needs of patients,’ he said.

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