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Jeremy Hunt: ‘I would scrap QOF if I could’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that the reduction of QOF targets in this year’s GP contract did not go far enough, telling a conference that he would ‘remove the lot of them if he could’.

Mr Hunt, who was delivering a keynote speech at an NHS Clinical Commissioners conference in London earlier today, said there was a need for change to restore the bond between doctors and patients, and that QOF reductions had been one attempt at doing this.

But commenting on the remarks, GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said they would cause a lot of concern.

Mr Hunt said: ‘I think at the heart of the changes that we need, is to restore that strong bond between doctor and patient at a local level, outside hospital.’

‘That’s why we changed the GP contract, introducing, bringing back named GPs for those 75 and over, and removed 40% of the QOF targets – and I’d like to remove the lot of them if I could – because I think continuity of care is absolutely core to the vision that we all want, in terms of out of hospital care for people with chronic and long term conditions.’

Dr Vautrey said: ‘Medical charities and other patient groups would be very concerned if the whole of QOF was removed. I think it has provided a good basis for ensuring that patients right across the UK actually receive a standard of […] support and treatment.’

‘I think we shouldn’t underestimate the significant benefit that QOF has had in improving the quality of care right across the country for patients with long term conditions.
Having said that, and we’ve made clear, that we think there is scope for further changes which further reduce micromanagement of practices and which place greater emphasis on empowering GPs as clinicians and professionals.’

The 2014/15 GP contract deal, negotiated between NHS England and the GPC, has seen a 40% reduction in the number of QOF points, with some of that money moved into global sum funding in return for GPs taking on the ‘named GP’ role for over-75s, and some used to create the new DES aimed at reducing unplanned admissions.