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QOF could be scrapped ‘in its entirety’ by next year

The GPC and the Government have agreed to ’explore’ a complete scrapping of QOF in England, with the current framework to remain unchanged for 2016/17.

The announcement comes as the clinical improvement scheme, introduced with the 2004 ‘new GMS’ contract, saw a massive 40% reduction in targets in 2014/15 and as an increasing number of GPs are working to local alternative deals under CCG co-commissioning.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that the agreement would ’look at ending QOF in its entirety’ from April 2017.

Also with a view to the 2017/18 contract, the negotiating parties will also explore ending the DES focusing on avoiding unplanned admission, introduced as part of the 2014/15 contract agreement but hugely criticised by GP leaders for being overly bureaucratic.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has repeatedly hinted at the removal of QOF, including telling Pulse last year that he was ‘not a fan’ of such financial incentives. However, he has also indicated that he wishes GPs to continue to record clinical outcomes against the framework.

Somerset was the first area of England to get rid of QOF and work to a local alternative scheme in 2014, with initial evaluation of the project revealing it had not led to impaired clinical outcomes.

The report found that dropping the QOF has freed up GPs to offer patients more holistic, person-centred and co-ordinated care – without any reduction in measures of quality.