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Let's set the record straight on NAO report

Your editorial 'GPs punished for sins of others' (pulsetoday.co.uk/opinion) misrepresents the findings and language of our report on NHS pay modernisation. Your readers deserve a clearer explanation.

The report's main findings are that the new contract cost the Department of Health £1.76bn more than it had initially budgeted for, and that it has begun to deliver some of the intended benefits. It did not say, as you suggested, that the contract was 'a gross waste of cash'.

In the report, we use 2005/6 national data on GP pay from the NHS Information Centre. Contrary to your speculation, this data does, in fact, take account of increased pension contributions. And we do not accuse GPs of 'gaming in the QOF'. Instead, we comment on the processes for auditing the QOF by PCTs.

Finally, our report does not 'lay the blame' on GPs. The report's focus is on how the department and PCTs implemented the contract; we recommend that PCTs do more to make use of the levers available in the new contract to improve services for patients.

From Julian Wood, director of marketing and communications, National Audit Office

Editor's note

The NAO's clarification is welcome, but its press conference struck a different note. Karen Taylor, director of the NAO's health value for money audit, said: 'As far as the public is concerned, the benefits from the new GP contract have not materialised as yet, and so it has not been a good deal.'

The report also called on the Government to 'reduce the level of exceptions allowed under the QOF'. Our editorial did not accuse the NAO of 'blaming GPs' - this accusation was levelled at the national media.

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