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QOF funding set to boost online GP services

Millions of pounds worth of practice funding should be transferred from QOF to enhanced services encouraging practices to improve dementia care and give patients online access, the DH has proposed.

As Pulse revealed earlier today that the DH plans to shrink the QOF by 14% – totalling 139.5 QOF points – and force practices to earn it back by providing new enhanced services.

These include an enhanced service to encourage better online access to GP services, implementing a Government pledge to give all patients the option of appointment booking and receiving their test results online from 2015.

After health secretary Jeremy Hunt promised to make NHS dementia services ‘one of the best in Europe’, the DH also plans an enhanced service to encourage diagnosis and care for people with dementia.

In a letter to PCT and SHA chief executives today, the DH’s national managing director of commissioning development Dame Barbara Hakin explained the shift in practice funding.

The letter states: ‘The Department proposes to reinvest fully into the contract the money released from the organisational domain, with some used to help fund the new clinical indicators recommended by NICE and the remaining money used for enhanced services to support practices in providing better care and support to patients.

The DH said it would design these enhanced services to focus on areas such as ‘diagnosis and care for people with dementia, care for frail or seriously ill patients, enabling patients to have on-line access to services, and helping people with long term conditions monitor their health’.

It said it would aim to ensure arrangements ‘support GP practices in working collaboratively and with peer support – through their CCG – to achieve these improvements and to help improve overall use of NHS resources’, and pledged to ‘support practices to achieve the desired improvements over a phased two-year implementation period’.

Dame Barbara added: ‘The Department is aware of concerns about practice workload and proposes to design these potential new enhanced services in ways that will support general practice to make most effective and efficient use of resources to improve quality of care.’