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Alcohol interventions ‘should be included in QOF’

GPs should be incentivised through QOF to ask all patients about their alcohol intake and have a ‘stepped programme' of interventions for problem drinkers, MPs have been told.

The Alcohol Health Alliance - a coalition of 31 medical associations including the RCGP and the BMA - says the Government could save £1.7 billion if it invested in better alcohol services and included payment for interventions in the QOF.

The call comes after the Government released its alcohol strategy, which proposed a minimum price of 40p per unit of alcohol.

But the Alliance says this does not go far enough to tackle the problems of alcohol-related health problems, and proposes more money to tackle problem drinking in primary care.

‘NICE states that primary prevention of alcohol-related harm at primary care level is both effective and cost effective.

‘This should be incentivised through including a measure in the QOF for GPs to record the alcohol intake of their patients and to give brief advice where indicated. For patients who do not respond to simple advice there should be a stepped programme of further intervention.'

The document was published this month and is a written submission to MPs on the House of Commons Health Committee, which is holding an inquiry into the Government's alcohol strategy.

Dr Simon Tickle, a GP in Leeds said that the recording requirements were ‘reasonable', but ‘probably doesn't go far enough'.

He said ‘If patients have a dependency, then it would be sensible to assess their motivation to change.

‘If they are motivated to change, the QOF measure should include an appropriate reaction from the GP, such as a referral to an alcohol detox services or counselling.'

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