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GPs set for QOF dementia indicators

By Lilian Anekwe

Exclusive: GPs could be set for indicators encouraging them to monitor the health of patients with dementia more closely after new indicators were successfully piloted.

The first pilots to be conducted as part of the NICE-led QOF development process included the development of a new indicator for dementia to be considered for inclusion in the 2011/12 QOF.

At a meeting in Manchester earlier this month, the independent QOF indicator advisory committee, which recommends new indicators for potential inclusion in the QOF, heard the results of pilots for an indicator rewarding GPs for the percentage of patients with a new diagnosis of dementia to have a health test.

The test, which could be taken either six months before a new diagnosis for any clinically valid reason, or six months after a new diagnosis, should include a full blood count, and a check of patients' calcium and glucose levels, and liver and renal function tests.

The six-month pilots in 32 practices found that around half of pilot practices said they routinely ran the tests in patients with dementia, but practice in areas with a lot of nursing and residential homes raised concerns about a high workload burden.

But Dr Colin Hunter, chair of the advisory committee and a GP in Aberdeen, intimated that the committee suggested QOF indicators could be used to focus the profession's attention on patients in care homes.

Dr Hunter said: ‘It may be that by putting in this indicators we begin to tackle the perception amongst GPs that patients in nursing homes should be excluded. We can encourage GPs to take this on.'

The committee will include successfully piloted indicators in the menu for the 2011/12 QOF, which will be negotiated on by the GPC and NHS Employers this summer. A decision on recommended indicators is due next month.

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