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GPs on new contract will still have to record QOF, Hunt tells Pulse

Exclusive GP practices will still have to record QOF activity under the new contract, despite the Government’s claims that it would get rid of box ticking, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has told Pulse.

Mr Hunt said that it would want to ‘carry on measuring what we measure under QOF’ for ‘clinical reasons’, but he said he was ‘not a fan’ of financial targets.

Announcing the new contract yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron said the new GP contract would ’get rid of the box ticking and the form filling’ whilst making sure that patients get access to GP services 8-8 seven days a week.

However, so far there has been little details around what it will entail, and Mr Hunt’s comments represent the most concrete suggestion yet.

He said: ’We will probably, for clinical reasons, want to carry on measuring what we measure under QOF – because I think it’s quite important. But we are absolutely putting on the table the possibility that this new contract could remove some of the rather rigid financial targets.

’As you know I’ve got rid of 40% of the targets already and… I’m actually not a particular fan of financial incentives.’

Asked whether the new contract would incentivise practices linked to outcomes, such as for example reduced hospital admissions, Mr Hunt added: ‘I think you can have outcome based payments but they need to be sophisticated and look at the the whole patient.’

Mr Hunt also said he hoped Pulse readers would welcome proposals.

He said: ’We want to have a modern contract, and that’s the kind of contract GPs want, so hopefully it will be welcomed by your readers.’

However GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul told Pulse that scrapping QOF financial incentives but still having to record QOF targets was ‘what GPs don’t want’.

‘The one thing GPs don’t want is to take away QOF on the one hand but then actually expect GPs to carry on working to the QOF. That is not relieving GPs of pressure.

’We need to see much more of GPs being allowed to act as professionals in caring for patients rather than spending time providing evidence that they do. That isn’t the way the rest of the NHS operates.’

He said the last thing GPs needed was ’a situation where, on the one hand, the payment part has ended but in fact GPs continue to be micromanaged with data and then erroneously judged on it’, similar to the CQC intelligent monitoring data published earlier this year.

He also said that if the Government was prepared to lose QOF under this new contract then it has to benefit all GP practices in terms of freeing them up. He said this ‘shouldn’t require any linkages to a seven-day service’.

The 2014/15 GP contract saw QOF reduced by 40% but as part of the contract, NHS England said it would ‘continue to collect and publish data, as far as possible, on the relevant interventions and outcomes in order to support practices in promoting ongoing quality improvement’.

The GPC said that they had only agreed for the continued extraction of the data linked to the indicators, not for the practices to do the work.