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Call for 'gender-equitable' QOF shake-up

By Steve Nowottny

QOF points should be awarded subject to gender-equitable distribution of services, according to a new report commissioned by the Department of Health.

The Gender and Access to Health Services Study, drawn up by the Men's Health Forum for the Department of Health and published last month, recommends the shake-up of QOF points as one of a series of measures to help reduce gender inequalities in primary care.

The report states: ‘It is strongly recommended that – on a trial basis – the awarding of some QOF points is made subject to a test of gender equitable distribution.'

‘For example, the points awarded for recording the body mass index of patients with diabetes could be made subject to the records reflecting the proportion of men and women who have diabetes.'

‘If such an approach was successful, it could be applied to any QOF indicators where there was evidence that there were gender imbalances that needed to be redressed.'

The report also recommends the establishment of a national Tackling Gender Inequalities Programme to help close ‘gender gaps in service use and health outcomes' and the consistent use of data showing the differences between men and women in health planning.

A Department of Health spokesman said no decisions on the report's recommendations had yet been made.

‘The Gender and Access to Health Services report was an independent report commissioned by the Department of Health,' he said.

‘Its findings have been distributed to all the relevant policy teams who are currently considering the recommendations and suggestions.

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