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QOF failing to boost rates of NRT use

The QOF is pushing up GPs' recording of smoking status but not their use of smoking cessation treatment, a new study concludes.

GP experts in smoking cessation warned the contract was providing pointless incentives and needed to be altered to encourage prescribing of nicotine replacement therapy.

Researchers analysed medical records from 1990 to 2005 and found an 88 per cent increase in recording of smoking status in the run-up to the QOF, with recording continuing to rise over the next year.

But the study, published in the latest edition of Addiction, found no such increases in prescriptions for nicotine addiction treatments.

The findings come as latest smoking cessation data reveals a sharp 12 per cent fall in the number of quitters since 2005.

Study leader Dr Tim Coleman, reader in general practice at the University of Nottingham and a GP in the city, said: 'As no targets were set for NRT it's not surprising rates did not increase. This warrants consideration when the QOF is revised.'

Dr Alex Bobak, a GPSI in smoking cessation in Wandsworth, south London, said he thought the indicators for the QOF should be changed.

'If you tell a patient to stop smoking it's not useful – the vast majority want to anyway. They need to be told how to stop, with support from the stop smoking services and treatment by the GP. Not one or the other, but both.'

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