New QOF depression indicators doing away with controversial questionnaire-based screening are being piloted in 30 practices across the UK.
The current indicators were kept in the recently renegotiated QOF – despite a NICE recommendation that they should be scrapped – pending the outcome of the pilots next April.
Under the pilot indicators, GPs are given points for the percentages of patients with depression who have had a bio-psychosocial assessment, and patients with a new diagnosis of depression who have been reviewed within 10-35 days.
GPs must currently assess severity of depression at diagnosis and four to 12 weeks later using validated assessment tools such as the PQH-9 questionnaire.
Professor Helen Lester, a GP leading evaluation of the pilots at the University of Birmingham, told Pulse: ‘So far initial feedback from practices has been positive but we won’t have our full evaluation findings until 12 April.’
Dr Karine Nohr, a GP in Sheffield, was a critic of use of self-reported questionnaires: ‘A bio-psychosocial assessment sounds fine, although it depends on how it is delivered. It’s about relevance to the patient’s state of mind and trying to work out what’s happening.’
But Dr John Hague, a GP in Ipswich with a special interest in mental health, said he would continue to use a questionnaire-based approach even if the current indicator was dropped: ‘I find questionnaires useful. Patients feel you are treating their illness seriously, and you can show them how their scores have changed.’