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QOF set to widen public health role

The Government has outlined plans to seek a wider public health role for GPs by using the QOF to 'incentivise well-being interventions'.

Among the areas ministers see as key to 'well-being' are smoking cessation, weight management, alcohol abuse, contraception, self-care and 'support for improved well-being'.

The impact assessment of the Government's White Paper proposals says: 'The intention is that from 2008/9, where evidence is available and subject to agreement with the BMA, the QOF will include measures which provide a clear focus on health and well-being outcomes.'

GPs accepted they were bound to take on a greater public health role, but expressed concern about the evidence base for proposed interventions.

Dr Harry Yoxall, secretary of Somerset LMC, said: 'QOF has to be evidence based ­ with some of those things the evidence is probably lacking.'

Dr Brian Balmer, chief executive of Essex LMCs, said: 'If they stick to the basis of QOF originally, that both sides agree to use evidence-based work, fine.

'If they stray from that into something that just seems to be a good idea because Tony says so, it's a load of crap.'

The assessment also includes more detail on proposed 'life-checks'. Early work will focus on those aged 0-3, 12-13 and 'around 50', but all ages will be able to complete a check online and are advised to attend their practices if they identify themselves as at high risk.

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