NHS England has said that there is ‘an opportunity for longer-term reform’ of the GP contract from 2025/26, including reforms around QOF.
Yesterday Pulse exclusively revealed that NHS England is ‘not in a position’ to negotiate to a new five-year GP contract due a lack of funding commitment, with the 2024/25 contract set to be a ‘stepping stone’.
The current contract runs out in 2024, and it had been thought that the 2024/25 could herald a seismic change in general practice in England, similar to the 2004 contract that removed out-of-hours obligations from practices.
However, national director of primary and community care services Dr Amanda Doyle said that NHS England has committed to a public consultation on the future of QOF and incentives in general practice, which will ‘inform our long-term approach’, with an opportunity for long-term reform of the GP contract for 2025/26.
She told Pulse: ‘We have committed to a public consultation on the future of QOF and incentives in general practice and we will be doing that – and that will inform our longer term approach and there is an opportunity for longer term contractual reform for 2025/26.’
Earlier this year, NHS England announced that the current QOF system would be reviewed during 2023/24 so it becomes more ‘streamlined and focused’, with an overhauled model being launched the following year.
In June, primary care minister Neil O’Brien said the profession and representative patient groups will be consulted on QOF and its future form this summer, but the consultation has not yet been launched.
When Pulse asked the Department of Health and Social Care for clarification on when it would be launched, they referred back to the words of the minister that it will come in the summer.
The 2023/24 QOF activity has been ‘streamlined’ too under the changes to the GP contract, with the number of indicators in QOF also cut by a quarter, from 74 to 55.
GP negotiators have said they will demand QOF, IIF and PCN DES monies are all moved into one simplified core general practice funding stream in new contract discussions.
‘Quality monitoring and regulation of contracting must be light touch with low levels of bureaucracy’, the GPC has said.
The 2024/25 contract negotiations will be the first since the end of the five-year deal.
There have been radical suggestions from both sides of the negotiations, including moving to payment by activity, scrapping QOF and introducing contractual workload limits.
However, in the exclusive interview with Pulse, Dr Doyle suggested that the next contract was going to be a one-year deal.