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QOF experts warn of gaming incentive

By Lilian Anekwe

QOF experts are warning that the removal of the square root formula may encourage GPs in vulnerable practices to game their prevalence figures in order to boost lost profits.

Two senior Department of Health advisors have expressed fears that the changes to disease prevalence payments will result in gaming of disease registers by GPs in losing practices.

The warning comes as the results of a Pulse survey show a third of GPs are worried the removal of the square root formula will leave the QOF more open to gaming.

Almost half of GPs who gave a response to Pulse's survey on the QOF said there were concerns over the potential of the changes to promote gaming of disease registers.

One GP in 10 said they knew of GPs in there are currently guilty of gaming.

Professor Matt Sutton, professor of health economics at the University of Aberdeen, who has previously published research on GP gaming, told Pulse: ‘Practices that are already at the maximum level of achievement can only earn more money by reporting high prevalence rates. I would expect that would become more common.'

Dr Tim Doran, a DH advisor on exception reporting and a research fellow at the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre in Manchester, said: ‘If a practice sees its income from QOF plummet, it might well seek to maximise the gains from QOF any way it can, and if practice staff feel that the new arrangements are unfair they might be less inclined to play by the rules.'

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