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GPs go forth

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’.

Other GPs asked for a ‘clear steer’ from the Government on the issue.


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.

NHS England has now advised GP practices to remote triage all patients who use online booking in order to 'mitigate any risk' of patients infected with Covid-19 attending the practice.

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.

Related images

  • QOF cover image - January issue

Readers' comments (13)

  • Common sense, why can't we make this a national campaign, get a newspaper with common sense to pick up on the NHSe incompetence, or have an open letter from the undersigned..... if Prof McCormack gets it, the readers at the coal face get it, why can't the clowns at CQC and NHSe get it?... I suspect NK et al will 'change their position' if they smell a rebellion and claim that they are leading.. when in fact, as usual, they are following a few steps behind.... Ed can we get a letter banged out demanding the CQC be dropped?

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  • FFS, actual common sense for once!

    Still waiting for initial delivery PPE

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  • When the shite hits the fan, which it will very soon, then a work-to-rule needs to be applied unless the Melchetts at the top don't wise up first:
    CQC visits
    Online bookings
    ..and I am sure there is a lot of other non important crap that could be added.

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  • @ Ian Chalmers,

    Been coughed at 10 times already today. Some were back from holidays abroad etc.too late for PPE.
    Front line staff better be young and healthy.

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  • OK so long as they don't stop the 2019-2020 QOF PAYMENT, which seems likley!!

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  • Please can our esteemed leaders at the BMA, RCGP and NHS England please issue a joint statement to support this - no chance of course...

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  • So instead of sensible measures to give current frontline staff more time such as suspend CQC, QOF, appraisal, online booking and routine health checks. We are left with farcical plans to rope in the retired and the not yet safely trained. What a mess, shame on those who come up with this nonsensical plans and shame on the BMA, RCGP, etc for not calling them out on it. Completely outrageous and unfair to expect pensioners and students to try and fill holes created by NHS leaders who dither and delay decision making. PS any signs of PPE?!

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  • Finally got my PPE thanks to the REMFs (Rear Echelon M---edical F---acilitators) at NHSE.

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  • Calling all medical pensioners and debt ridden students. Come and face the mess our leaders have created while they cower in their ivory towers producing "guidance" and demonstrating "leadership". You can get some sub standard PPE 2s as GPs are deemed expendable.

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  • Pointless PPE 2 received. Thanks for nowt. At least it's consistent with the constant barrage of things we do that have no evidence base. But it looks kind of medical and reassures the public that HMG and NHSE an are taking note of their concerns. Off to buy more bogroll for my bunker now ...

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