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GPC ‘deeply concerned’ over variable approach to QOF opt-outs

The GPC has called on managers to give all GPs the option of dropping soon-to-be retired QOF work before the new contract takes effect in April.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC chair and a GP in Harrow, said the committee was ‘deeply concerned’ that some NHS England area teams have been granting GPs the option to stop work on the 341 QOF points that will be retired from April, whereas others have not.

Pulse revealed on Friday that GPs in Lincolnshire, Leicester and Leicestershire and Rutland have joined those in Devon and Cornwall in securing an agreement with NHS England to stop working on QOF points that will no longer exist from April.

But in other areas, CCGs and LMCs in other areas have put forward requests for similar local agreements and have been knocked back by area teams.

Dr Nagpaul said the GPC supported the idea of stopping work on the QOF indicators, which were imposed in 2013/14, in return for starting work on the enhanced service, because it would free GPs up to use their clinical judgement more during the winter months ‘when workload pressures on practices are at their highest, and vulnerable patients are most at risk of emergency admission to hospital’.

Moreover, Dr Nagpaul said the GPC had asked NHS England back in December to support such local agreements, but was turned down.

He said: ‘We believe that NHS England should have ensured a consistent approach across England by agreeing to and implementing the proposal that we made in December. Practices and patients would then have had the time to adopt and experience the benefits of such an agreement prior to April 2014.

‘Even at this late stage, we still believe that NHS England should provide the central support required to allow the local adoption of these schemes.’

But he said the GPC did not support the kind of deal cut by Somerset CCG, LMC and GPs with their local area team, which he said risked practices losing out financially and could ultimately harm patient care.

GPs in Somerset have negotiated a complete suspension of QOF reporting, with a view to implementing a local replacement for QOF from April.

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘We would not, however, support any QOF scheme or local contract that goes beyond what has been agreed as part of a nationally negotiated GP contract agreement. Such local arrangements could undermine national contract negotiations, potentially leading to worse financial outcomes for practices and ultimately a negative impact on patients in the long term.’