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New QOF targets shelved to free up GPs

By Lilian Anekwe

The introduction of new, NICE-led QOF indicators has been shelved to allow GP practices to focus all of their efforts on dealing with swine flu.

Negotiators for the GPC, NHS Employers and the Department of Health agreed the changes proposed by NICE in August will not now go ahead this April.

The proposed indicators for diabetes could have meant GPs facing tougher blood pressure targets in their diabetic patients, of as low as 140/80mm Hg.

The new indicators, which included targets for recording thyroid-stimulating hormone in patients with learning disabilities and offering family planning advice to women with epilepsy, were due to be negotiated on by the GPC and NHS Employers this winter, ahead of inclusion in the 2010/11 QOF.

But the GPC succeeded in convincing NHS Employers not to introduce the new indicators, to lighten practice workload and allow GPs the time and resources to prepare for the swine flu vaccination programme.

As part of the deal, the GPC also agreed to release 28 points identified by NICE, to be used for new indicators in the 2011/12 version of the QOF.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said to prevent any future clawbacks of swine flu payments, an agreement had been reached by all parties that the arrangement had been made in ‘unique circumstances, and set no precedent for the future'.

NICE recognised the ‘unique circumstances' and said it would now ‘consider how we can make the best use of the valuable work undertaken since April'.

Dr Gavin Jamie, a GP in Swindon, said: ‘Freezing the QOF is going to make things easier. The indicators are on the shelf for a year, and the environment may be very different by this time next year.'

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