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Minister calls for pain indicators in QOF

By Nigel Praities

A Government minister has invited applications for new pain management indicators for the QOF in a parliamentary debate held yesterday.

Health minster Ann Keen said the inclusion of pain in the QOF was a ‘key issue' and that she hoped organisations would submit proposed indicators for the next review.

The debate was proposed by Anne Begg MP, the chair of the recently formed All-Party Parliamentary Group on Chronic Pain, who said pain should be considered as a ‘vital sign' for PCTs and incentivised through the QOF.

‘The inclusion of pain assessment in the QOF would strongly encourage health professionals to be proactive and to ask a patient about their pain, treat it promptly and reassess it to ensure that the treatment given is effective, rather than expecting the patient to raise it first,' she said.

Ms Begg also criticised the complete withdrawal of co-proxamol by the MHRA, and quoted figures revealed in Pulse earlier this year that showed an increase in morphine and tramadol prescriptions as a result of the withdrawal.

In response, Ann Keen said Ms Begg had made a ‘persuasive and eloquent case' for pain indicators in the QOF and she hoped pressure groups, such as the Chronic Pain Policy Coalition – would press for its inclusion.

‘I understand that the next opportunity to submit suggestions for new indicators to NICE will be this summer. I hope that the chronic pain policy coalition will take the opportunity to suggest specific indicators at that stage,' she said.

A spokesperson from the Chronic Pain Policy Coalition confirmed it would submit a proposal for new QOF indicators for the routine management and assessment of pain to NICE later this year.

'Given the important role GPs have to play in the early identification, diagnosis and management of patients with pain, we strongly believe that this is an area in which greater incentivisation through inclusion within the QOF indicators would have a considerable positive impact,' he said.

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