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The waiting game

GP QOF and enhanced service income to be protected during Covid-19 outbreak

GP practices will have their funding for QOF, DES and LES protected during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

The NHS said this comes in a bid to ensure funding concerns do not impact on decisions made by clinicians during the crisis.

A letter to NHS managers from NHS chief executive Simon Stevens, sent today, said: 'We will make sure that funding does not influence clinical decision making by ensuring that all GP practices in 2020/21 continue to be paid at rates that assume they would have continued to perform at the same levels from the beginning of the outbreak as they had done previously, including for the purposes of QOF, DES and LES payments.'

Giving evidence to the House of Commons health and social care committee this afternoon, Mr Stevens went even further, promising all NHS organisations would be paid regardless of meeting their usual targets, for up to six months.

He said: 'What we're doing, not just with GPs, but we are going to do the same with community pharmacists, we are going to do the same with hospitals and NHS trusts, is essentially to say, look, for the next 4-6 months clearly we are all going to be going flat out at the coronavirus and therefore we are suspending the usual rules around the contracts and payments and incentives, and just paying upfront the funding that staff and organisations need in order to do the right thing for their patients on coronavirus.'

He added that there would be 'many myriad aspects of the way that the GP contract works that will conform to that'.

Mr Stevens also said there would 'almost certainly' be relaxation around GP prescribing rules, including repeat prescriptions and when patients should have reviews.

But asked by GP MP Dr Luke Evans whether the PCN network DES requirements would be postponed, also in light of the fact that the LMCs conference voted it down, Mr Stevens would not be drawn.

He said: 'My team are obviously discussing with the [GP] Committee the best way of doing this going into next year. But, two of the things you've just referred to frankly will be a help to practices, not a hindrance. Namely, being able to work together with other practices in their neighbourhood, also known as primary care networks, and getting extra staff in, whether it's therapists, nurses or other members of the practice team.

'So those are probably two of the things that you wouldn't want to go slow on, you probably want to do more of those.'

More to follow...

Readers' comments (9)

  • Protected for 20/21 only? really?

    Need some urgent clarity on this as at the moment it seems that we should absolutely 100% be making sure all QOF for this year is done, because it will be worth double/ counted for next year as well!

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  • Ideally should either be last year's QoF results or this year's, whichever is better - and replicated for next year too as Covid isn't going away any time soon

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  • Agree clarification needed. End of feb achievement not the same as end of March!

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  • Underinvestment in all services coming home to roost. Simon Stevens very generous in protecting the meagre 'uplifts' for general practice whilst happily promising much much more to our clearly more deserving acute colleagues.

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  • what in god's name does this mean
    simple english would state QOF paid at last years outturn or attainment at todays date whichever is the highest It doesn't and so I am in need of assurance

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  • at my last practice I was promised qof protection by the ccg when other practices closed and I was forced to take 3000 patients. CQC were not understanding at all and took no notice of what the ccg had said. big problems and several partners left

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  • Out the fire escape--has demonstrated this is what happens with over-regulation. It is detrimental to service and it does not work.

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  • Vinci Ho

    I am actually not surprised this would to go to the full extent of ‘protection’ . This government led by Bo-Joker has just waken up and found himself rather ‘helpless’ and totally humbled at the mercy of this Covid-19. As I said from day one , the political , economic and social consequences will be far more serious than the bad enough medical outcomes .
    To protect the hospitals as well as responding to the arguments on testing or not , the government will have to eventually ask GPs to help , in my opinion . NHS 111 is doomed to collapse spooner or later .
    Shielding anyone over 70 years old at home for 3-4 months while the rest of population is to develop herd immunity , is theoretically sound but put it into practice , social care is the first to be decimated completely . And my one simple question is ,who is to certify death if an elderly with or without symptoms dies during the isolation period ?
    Once again , I would ask the question why the hitherto PHE interim guidance for primary care has not been updated since 25/2/2020 ?
    Simon , time to climb down your high horse to engage GPs urgently and directly ?

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  • We are being pressured to work on cluster/network covid19 initiatives with no reference to our existential crisis in recruitment and retention , GP partners remain individually liable for the financial risk of premises ownership (including long terms leases) and any redundancy costs in the event of business failure. The diversification of the clinical workforce in practices evolving to the earlier crisis is threatened by the lack of understanding by clusters and networks as they pursue supra-practice modelling in response to covid19. I wish to support the National NHS response, the Government could provide a guarantee against the personal financial risks I face as a partner at this time, my clinical and organisational skills can then be fully deployed within the public health response. Without such a guarantee (which seems already available to banks and financial business) I will be conflicted by these constraints in a way my salaried colleagues in their posts are not.

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