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Darzi and QOF reports will shape the coming months

Two hard-hitting reports out this morning. Different authors, different subject matters – but both will play a key role in shaping the next few months in medical politics.

By Steve Nowottny

Two hard-hitting reports out this morning. Different authors, different subject matters – but both will play a key role in shaping the next few months in medical politics.

First up, the Health Select Committee's verdict on the Darzi review. Last week, we warned you not to expect too many fireworks, but as it turned out, the cross-party group of MPs didn't pull any punches. The report was scathing about the rollout of GP-led health centres, and for many GPs the key line will be a simple but damning one: ‘The Committee does not accept that it was necessary or sensible to improve access before improving quality.'

But more important still was the committee's assessment of PCTs' readiness to deliver what Darzi promised. For many PCT managers this will be top of the to-do list in 2009. But the committee's findings that there is a ‘striking and depressing' lack of management skills and serious weaknesses in commissioning ability points to this being an uphill struggle.

The second key report came from the GPC, with its response to the ongoing consultation on the proposed QOF shakeup. Many of the points made – local QOFs would cause a postcode lottery, NICE's cost-effectiveness criteria could arm patient care – we have heard before. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But with this report it was the language that was striking.

The moderate Dr Richard Vautrey may be the GPC negotiator responsible for leading on QOF matters, but this report bore all the hallmarks of GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman's more uncompromsing style.

The GPC ‘strongly object' to proposals to routinely review existing indicators. The fragmentation of the national QOF would be ‘seriously detrimental' to attempts to reduce health inequalities. Some of the proposals ‘could be construed as an almost wilful re-interpretation of our contract negotiations.'

Fighting talk indeed. We will have to await the Government's response, of course, but it looks like the BMA have chosen their ground carefully, and defending a QOF which is ‘the envy of the world' is a battle they believe they can win. It's official: peace is over.

The Health Select Committee's report on the Darzi review is one of the two reports that will shape the coming months Recent posts

Love it or loathe it, the Summary Care Record is finally here January 12
Reheated NHS Choices plan repeats on ministers
January 8
MPs to give their views on Darzi. What are yours?
January 8
Crystal ball gazing for 2009
January 7
Behind the curtain: our new blog
January 7

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