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Still waiting on negotiations over quitting

I write regarding your news article 'GPs face smoking quit rate targets'.

In our statement responding to the Commons health committee report on health inequalities, we said we agreed with the committee's recommendation that the Government should implement evidence-based policies to help reduce health inequalities - for example, mandatory food labelling, encouraging walking and reducing smoking.

One way would be to reward GPs who help their patients successfully quit smoking and that does not have to be through the QOF. For example, PCTs can already invest in LESs to support practices that are helping patients quit smoking.

It is not true negotiations between the Department of Health and the BMA over smoking cessation targets are 'at an advanced stage' or even that 'a deal is being thrashed out' because there are no negotiations taking place right now between NHS Employers and the GPC. Our discussions for 2010/11 are yet to start.

From Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC chair

Editor's note: The health committee was specifically talking about the QOF, arguing: 'The QOF should be adjusted so less weight is placed on identifying smokers and more on incentives to stop smoking.' The BMA welcomed the committee's recommendations as 'the policies the Government should be focusing on' and added calls to 'reward GPs who are successful in helping patients quit'. Our parliamentary source maintains the BMA discussed this with the DH, although we accept that no formal discussions have begun between NHS Employers and the GPC - and our story did not claim this.

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