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QOF thresholds to rise and new CVD targets set

By Nigel Praities

The Government plans to ramp up QOF thresholds and is likely to push for targets for cardiovascular screening, a leading official has revealed.

Mark Britnell, director general of commissioning at the Department of Health, said Lord Darzi's NHS review would focus on squeezing more value out of the QOF and making it ‘more relevant to the people we serve'.

He also said Government still wanted to introduce points for osteoporosis, even though it rejected these at Christmas in favour of incentives for access.

Giving evidence to the parliamentary inquiry into health inequalities last week, Britnell told MPs on the Health Select Committee that the QOF had been ‘very progressive' but was currently being re-evaluated as part of the NHS next stage review.

‘The Darzi review will be looking at making the QOF more relevant for the people we serve,' he said. He added that the review was looking at ‘raising thresholds' and at other conditions that could be introduced, such as osteoporosis.

Britnell also said the Government wanted the QOF to focus on ‘wellbeing' following Gordon Brown's speech earlier this year on plans for screening and prevention.

‘We are looking at making QOF wider and how it can promote wellbeing in areas such as smoking, diabetes and CVD,' he said.

His comments came as a Department of Health report revealed a mixed record on health inequalities in the UK, with the infant mortality gap between socioeconomic groups narrowing, but the gap in life expectancy between groups widening.

Dr Anthony Lister, a GP in Norwich, said the idea of raising thresholds to the average achievement target had been mooted before.

He added: ‘I hear the word Darzi now and I shudder. The Darzi review is entirely the wrong way of going about addressing health inequalities. If the Department of Health are serious about addressing improving inequalities they should focus on the square root formula and fund services in deprived areas.'

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