Tories back QOF shift from process to outcomes

A Conservative government would rewrite the QOF to encourage GPs to work with pharmacies, a shadow health minister has said.

Mr Simmonds: rethinking QOF
Mr Simmonds: rethinking QOF

The party would also expect practices to put all services they commission out to tender.

Mark Simmonds told a fringe event at last week's party conference that: 'In a patient-centric system, patients should be able to choose where they get services from. There is an enormous amount that (pharmacists) can do.'

But he said encouraging GPs to work with pharmacists would require 'aligning their interests through the QOF and other financial mechanisms'.

After the meeting, he told GP that this would likely involve rewriting the QOF to focus on outcomes. The framework is 'too process-based' he said, citing the fact it rewards GPs for recording smoking rates rather than smoking cessation rates.

Rewriting the QOF would encourage practices to see pharmacists as 'partners' in care for their patients, rather than as competitors, he said.

Mr Simmonds also said that although all practices would be required to commission services, it was 'not a return to fundholding'. A Conservative government would force practices to tender services, to ensure they did not simply buy them from themselves, he said.

He added that the party was researching ways to rewrite QOF, and will publish further plans before the election.

Mr Simmonds listed diabetes management, STI clinics, smoking cessation and cardiovascular screening as areas in which pharmacies could play a greater role. He cited a recent visit to a pharmacy which had installed a dispensing machine as evidence that pharmacies wanted to free up time to take on more clinical roles by cutting time spent on handing out drugs.

But he warned that patients can receive conflicting advice from GPs and pharmacies, and said they should do more to share information.

'Many GPs are nervous about pharmacists having access to patient records, but I think it is going to be inevitable,' he said.

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