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Somerset GPs given approval from NHS managers to opt out of QOF completely



GP practices in one region have been given the go-ahead from managers to ditch QOF completely, in a radical scheme that has major implications for the future of the framework.

The deal, struck between GPs in Somerset, the local LMC and NHS England will allow GP practices in the county to choose whether to continue working to QOF indicators, or opt for a new local contract funded with the funds released from QOF.

The details of the local contract are not yet available, but Somerset LMC has indicated previously that practices will continue with ‘good markers of clinical care’ such as those relating to diabetes and serious mental illness.

Pulse understands it will be a pilot scheme only, and other areas will not be allowed to strike a similar deal yet, but it

But the GPC has criticised the arrangements, and the LMCs Conference passed a motion last month saying it undermined national contract negotiations.

The LMC had asked GPs in the region whether they would like to opt for the local contract in May – which Pulse first revealed in January – and a decision from the LMC was expected by the end of that month.

However, the LMC was waiting on confirmation from the NHS England board, which it has now received, Pulse understands.

Practices previously suspended QOF reporting altogether in January for three months, after agreeing to help prepare plans for an alternative package of work in its place, leading many areas to seek similar deals without success.

Dr Harry Yoxall, chair of Somerset LMC, said last month: ‘The amount of money available is the same as NHS England would pay for QOF work. The three monthly report has got to show some progress – the development of a plan over the first three months and how that plays out over the 12-month period.’

‘This is not about saving “x” number of lives by day 365 – it’s more about saying, “here at the end of the year is a plan for dealing with this area, this is what we our experience has shown and this is what the benefits and constraints of this particular approach could be”.’

‘Practices will continue to be doing a lot of the essential key work in QOF but what they won’t be doing is reporting in each of the domains – they will only be reporting on a limited number.’