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QOF bail out planned for square root formula losers

By Lilian Anekwe

Practices threatened by removal of the square root formula may be handed new QOF indicators to prop up their income, Pulse has learned.

The Department of Health is considering a plan to bail out practices with low prevalence of QOF conditions, which are set to lose thousands under the scrapping of the formula.

PCTs are being approached to canvas interest in the development of financial support for practices that stand to lose out once the changes come into force in April.

Primary Care Contracting, working on behalf of the Government, has asked PCT managers to ‘establish potential levels of interest in quality indicators for specialist practice areas to assess the need for additional programmes in 2009/10'.

A rescue package could keep hard-hit practices afloat, potentially by setting indicators specifically for University practices, or others with young and affluent populations.

A Primary Care Contracting spokesperson said: ‘We regularly support PCTs in developing quality indicators for local service specifications – independent of DH-sanctioned QOF indicators.

‘We are sounding out interest in the areas mentioned and will work with PCTs as appropriate.'

The move comes as Pulse finally forced the DH to release its secret list of QOF winners and losers, some of whom the GPC says could end up as much as £100,000 worse off.

But while it finally handed us the list, after an appeal under Freedom of Information legislation, it hid details of how much individual practices would win or lose.

The list is available from Pulse's website at

Dr Tim Doran, a research fellow at the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, said: ‘The new system will be much fairer at rewarding practices for delivered care, but will be less fair in that practices with low prevalence will not have the same opportunity to earn from the QOF. Those practices really need to have alternative indicators.'

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