GPs are being prevented from uploading their QOF achievement data just a week before the deadline as a result of connection problems with the IT system, leading to fears this will cause payment problems.
The Calculating Quality Reporting System (CQRS) system – set up by the Health and Social Care Information Centre – has been live just over a week but GPs have already had trouble automatically uploading their data.
Practices have to manually upload data relating to 17 QOF indicators and then check that the CQRS system has produced an accurate estimate for their aspiration payments by 1 April, or risk receiving incorrect payments.
However, the HSCIC had to apologise for connection issues with the system, but it reiterated assurances that a contingency was in place to ensure GPs would receive payments, and claimed it wouldn’t require further manual input on the part of practices.
IT experts have expressed concerns that the payments might be incorrect because of problems uploading the data, and criticised the HSCIC for the problems with the system as a whole.
The HSCIC had originally planned to have the CQRS system ready to automatically upload DES, vaccination and QOF data by October 2013, yet the system has faced a number of setbacks, with GPs forced to take on the time-consuming task of manually inputting data and hundreds of practices facing frustration when their passwords to the reporting system expired without warning.
A HSCIC bulletin said that there have been issues for many practices. It said: ‘The Health and Social Care Information Centre is aware that users are experiencing some connection issues with CQRS which are resulting in a ‘Proxy Error’.
‘We are aware that this is causing delays to manual data entry. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience that some users are experiencing. We are working to fix this and CQRS users will receive a further update when the problem is resolved.’
The bulletin states the contingency – developed in conjunction with NHS England – ‘will ensure that an estimated QOF 2014/15 aspiration payment can be made to those GP practices affected through CQRS in April as normal’.
However, Dr Grant Ingrams, a GP in in Chester, and former chair of the GPC IT subcomittee, said his practice had suffered from the connection problems, and added there was a worry that practices won’t be getting the correct payments.
He told Pulse: ‘What matters is what it says on CQRS, because that’s what turns into points, and points turn into money.’
‘But there’s always the apprehension that what will appear on the other end is not what you think it will be, so until you see the final score [the payments calculated by HSCIC] – you don’t know whether it’s worked.’
Dr Ingrams added: ‘It’s rather depressing how many years it’s been – it was 2009/10 that we signed off GPES and the supposed replacement for QMAS.’
The HSCIC directs users having problems to the ‘CQRS Service Status webpage’ for updates – visible via any N3 connected system.