Cardiovascular experts call for QOF suspension during coronavirus outbreak
Exclusive QOF and NHS health checks should be suspended while GPs deal with the coronavirus outbreak, a professor of primary care cardiovascular medicine has said.
Vice President of the British and Irish Hypertension Society Professor Terry McCormack said that ‘now is not the time’ to pursue cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention, but rather focus on protecting these vulnerable patients from the virus.
Professor McCormack said that he has long 'pushed the importance of controlling hypertension and high cholesterol for both primary and secondary prevention of CVD' but 'in the light of our need to control the spread of Covid-19, now is not the time to pursue CVD prevention'.
He pointed out that this comes as 'people with CV, especially the elderly, are at increased risk from Covid-19'.
He told Pulse: 'If the Government were to suspend QOF and NHS Health Checks work, it would free up large areas of primary care resources to concentrate on tackling this imminent threat to the nation's health.'
'This is especially important to consider in March, the month before the QOF deadline.'
According to Professor McCormack, suspending QOF and health checks 'would not unduly affect the health of the CV community, as we would just have a temporary pause to the scheme'.
'It strikes me as a sensible and pragmatic response to an emergency situation,' he said.
GP leader have also called for QOF to be suspended in light of the current situation.
Kent LMC medical secretary Dr John Allingham called on health secretary Matt Hancock to ‘guarantee [QOF] payments now’.
Time to suspend the last minute QoF reviews that half of my patients miss and get all staff on the front line taking calls and advising potential covid 19 patients. @MattHancock guarantee payments now— johnallingham (@docjallingham) March 9, 2020
Other GPs asked for a ‘clear steer’ from the Government on the issue.
Hi @NikkiKF— Mike Smith (@drmdsmith) March 9, 2020
I have quite a few frail patients and with chronic disease coming in over the next 3 weeks.
Is there going to be a clear steer on QOF today?
The NHS is facing a large surge in cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) infection. We need to prepare for this in primary care by suspending:— Prof. Azeem Majeed (@Azeem_Majeed) March 8, 2020
- CQC inspections
- 2020-21 QOF programme
Other suggestions on what administrative processes could be suspended are welcome.
Dear @NHSEngland, please suspend qof and appraisal for 6/12 and the same for @CareQualityComm. Let GP and primary care prepare for what is to come, free us up from routine electivecare to prep for what is needed . Common sense needs some space 🙏— Dr Peter Weeks (@DrPeterWeeks1) March 8, 2020
Whilst the primary care guidance on Friday was welcome, there are still outstanding questions for those working tomorrow:— Steve Kell (@SteveKellGP) March 8, 2020
-Need to stop routine work such as QOF and local incentive schemes.
-We need advice re Triaging & treating chest/flu symptoms with no travel history.
Pulse has asked the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) whether it will suspend QOF while the NHS responds to the coronavirus outbreak.
It comes as a survey revealed that GPs do not feel equipped to deal with the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.
Planned measures for the NHS to tackle the epidemic include the GMC re-registering retired doctors; drafting in medical students; cancellations of routine care; and NHS staff being allowed to forcibly detain patients suspected of having the virus.
It also confirmed that all practices will receive an 'initial stock' of PPE, including '400 general use aprons, 300 pairs of examination gloves and 300 fluid repellent face masks'.
Meanwhile, Pulse revealed last week that opportunistic testing in GP practices has already identified two cases of Covid-19.
On the latest count, a total of 23,513 people had been tested in the UK, of which 273 were confirmed positive. Three UK patients who tested positive for Covid-19 have now died.