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QOF funding shifted to efficiency savings drive

By Lilian Anekwe

QOF payments will be redistributed and used to fund the drive to keep patients out of hospital and reduce emergency admissions to hospital, according to new changes to the GP contract announced by NHS Employers.

According to today's announcement, 96.5 QOF points, released by retiring several clinical indicators that NICE has identified as having become part of routine GP care, will be put into incentivising GPs through ‘quality and productivity indicators' designed to drive down referrals to secondary care, use of 'alternative care pathways' and create efficiency savings through more effective prescribing.

The new indicators ‘aim to secure more effective utilisation of NHS resources, in particular through improvements in the quality of primary care that reduce hospital outpatient referrals and emergency hospital admissions by providing care to patients through the use of alternative care pathways and through more effective prescribing'.

GPs will be offered 28 points to 'conduct an internal review of their prescribing followed by an external peer review which will include an assessment of clinical and cost effectiveness'.

Twenty-one points have also been allocated for 'internal review followed by an external peer review of outpatient referrals to secondary care', and for GPs to deliver care along 'agreed care pathways'.

Reviewing emergency admissions and providing alternative care along new care pathways will earn GP practices 47.5 points.

GPs will be expected to start implementing the efficiency measures immediately as the quality and productivity incentives are for one year beginning this April, but the new contract details state there is ‘the possibility of being extended to a second year if significant progress has been made in achieving productivity savings at the mid-year point'.

The new quality and productivity indicators will contribute to the 4% efficiency savings in primary care targeted by health secretary Andrew Lansley.

QOF funding is being shifted towards keeping patients out of hospital Full coverage of the contract deal

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Full coverage of the contract deal Money