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NHS ‘committed in principle’ to scrapping QOF

NHS England has said it has ‘committed in principle’ to phasing out the QOF, the strongest indication that it is to be scrapped.

Speaking at the Commons Public Accounts Committee meeting today, NHS England chief executive said it is currently reviewing potential replacements with the GPC, alongside a review of the ‘Carr Hill’ practice funding formula.

Both the BMA and NHS England have said they believe the QOF is outdated, and in the 2017/18 GP contract agreement, the parties announced they were setting up a review group to discuss the future of the framework.

But NHS England has never previously said it has ‘committed in principle’ to scrapping the scheme.

Mr Stevens told MPs that they would ‘tread with care’ with regards to scrapping the QOF and changing the funding formula to avoid practices becoming too destabilised.

He said that the Carr Hill formula – which takes issues like patient demographics into account when calculating a practice’s core funding – was a controversy and consternation, and was almost enough to topple the 2004 GP contract’.

He added: ‘We are moving to a fairer system around MPIG, but that has had to be phased in over seven years so as not to have that big dislocating effect. The reviews we have been doing of the PMS funding has been over four years.’

Part of this review of core GP funding would be agreeing a replacement for the QOF, he said.

He added: ‘We have committed in principle to phasing out the QOF, which in my view has run its course, so as part of the discussion around the replacement of QOF, we have to look at what this Carr Hill piece will be. But we shouldn’t throw all the cards up in the air in a way that will destabilise practices from 2018.’

Scotland has already scrapped the QOF, while Wales and Northern Ireland have suspended it until April at least.