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GPs set for QOF targets on boosting physical activity in patients

By Lilian Anekwe

Moves to ramp up the proportion of public health indicators in the QOF have begun, with the recommendation that brief interventions around increasing patients' physical activity level should be included in the QOF.

The recommendation came after two indicators were successfully piloted in practices, to encourage GPs to offer an annual assessment of physical activity, and to offer patients assessed as having low levels of activity a brief intervention to advise on exercise and lifestyle interventions.

The pilot practices, that used the General Practice Physical Activity Questionnaire to assess physical activity, were split on the benefits of the indicator, with 40% of practices feeling they should not be included in the QOF, 35% that they definitely should, and 25% ambivalent.

But on the strength of the evidence submitted to the committee on cost effectiveness, and a commitment by the coalition government to tie 15% of QOF payments to public health targets and primary prevention indicators from 2013 – the indicator will be recommended to GPC negotiators and NHS Employers for inclusion in the 2012/13 QOF.

The indicators were piloted in patients with hypertension, but the committee did hear a suggestion that the indicators 'should be extended to other people with COPD, diabetes, CHD, depression, obesity and cancer.'

Dr Colin Hunter, a GP in Aberdeen and chair of the primary care QOF indicator advisory committee, said: 'There is a strong onus on us to try and find some indicators that will improve public health. It is not perfect, but the evidence base is reasonably strong.'

GPs set for QOF targets on boosting physical activity in patients