By Alisdair Stirling
Government auditors have revealed some PCTs have been ‘lacking' in their approach to auditing QOF and could not be confident that payments made to GPs were justified and were delivering good value.
In a new report, published today by the Audit Commission, found wide variations in exception reporting and told PCTs to ‘take suitable action to ensure patients are only exception-reported for legitimate reasons'.
The report found different PCTs had QOF exception reporting rates ranging from 3.8% to 7.1% of patients. Within PCTs, exception levels in individual practices vary even more, with one PCT included in the study showing exception rates ranging from 2.5% to 15.1%.
The body called on the NHS Commissioning Board to deliver a consistent, rigorous and more systematic approach to auditing QOF.
The findings come months after the Department of Health said it planned to introduce tighter scrutiny of GPs' exception reporting, after figures from the NHS Information Centre showed an increase in England.
Andy McKeon, managing director of health at the Audit Commission said: ‘Patients may be missing out because of poor administration of the QOF scheme. PCTs will soon give way to the new NHS Commissioning Board and GP consortia.
‘Robust audit will be crucial to ensure the payments are being properly and fairly made under any incentive schemes and patients get the benefits intended.'
GPC negotiator Dr Richard Vautrey said the GPC would oppose any move to bring in a local element to the scheme.
‘We want to retain a national system for the benefit of all patients wherever they live.
‘With the scrapping of practice boundaries, and patients moving where they like, it would be quite bizarre to have locally different incentives.'