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Patients should receive part of QOF budget to stay healthy, think-tank suggests

A think-tank has called for the introduction of a financial reward system, overseen by GPs, which would incentivise people to reduce their healthcare costs.

Patients should receive tax rebates if they keep blood sugar levels down, quit smoking or keep weight off, health think-tank 20/20 Health proposed in a new report on how patients can help to balance the books of the NHS.

The report suggested that this ‘payment-by-results’ programme could be linked to the QOF system or be ‘facilitated by electronic patient records’. As for funding, this could be secured by reducing the amount of money that GPs earn in the current QOF and transfer the incentives to patients instead, the report stated.

The report said: ‘In sharing responsibility for our own health, new ways of engaging with the public must be found to enable a better understanding of the actions needed to prevent illness or self-manage. We propose ‘Payment by Results’, a financial reward for people who become active partners in their health, whereby if you e.g. keep your blood sugar levels down, quit smoking, keep weight off, take on more self-care there will be a tax rebate or an end of year bonus.’

‘This could be monitored by the GP, linked to QOF or facilitated by electronic patient records. Incentives have been used for some years in Scotland to help people quit smoking with more success than other interventions. GPs are currently getting fees for improved patient outcomes, when the patients have done most of the work! More money spent on making healthy choices rather than pursuing unachievable choices would be the best stewardship of NHS funds and taps into our human desire to save money.’

Gail Beer, co-author of the report, said: ‘We identify some of the themes of the current debate and look beyond ‘the NHS must change’ rhetoric to actually consider how the NHS can survive.’