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QOF should be scrapped under ‘new deal’ for GPs, says RCGP

The RCGP is calling on the GPC to ‘replace QOF’, and has urged the Government to conduct an immediate review of the ‘unnecessary burden’ posed by CQC inspections in a bid to relieve the immense pressure on GPs.

In its ‘blueprint’ – which details how the Government can deliver on the Five Year Forward View to overhaul the NHS – the college calls for an ‘urgent full scale review into how the bureaucracy, red tape and unnecessary workload’ can be reduced and how to free up GP time to focus on ‘delivering high quality patient care’.

It says that the QOF is creating ‘unnecessary burdens’ on GPs, and says there should be new funding arrangements to replace it.

The RCGP also says that there should be an ‘immediate review’ of the role of the CQC, following the calls from the LMCs Conference to scrap the regulator, and a speech by Dr Chaand Nagpaul calling for an end to the inspection regime.

The RCGP’s plan for general practice – released in May to coincide with the election of the new Government – stressed the safety implications of general practice being ‘significantly overstretched’, as GPs are unable to make necessary innovations to ensure future patient care.

It said: ‘There are concerns that general practice does not have the capacity to withstand a major health crisis such as a national flu outbreak, and that GPs who want to spend more time developing new models of patient care are prevented from doing so by current pressure levels.’

This could partly be achieved by a review of QOF and the CQC, it said.

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The report called for the Government to ‘immediately initiate discussions with the GPC to replace the QOF with a new funding arrangement that allows GPs more freedom to focus on providing the best possible holistic care to patients and eliminates unnecessary bureaucracy’.

The calls come after several CCGs have initiated moves to replace the QOF locally as part of plans to co-commission primary care, while health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he would ‘scrap QOF if I could’.

The RCGP similarly called for an ‘immediate review of CQC inspections and regulatory processes to eliminate unnecessary burdens for  general practice, and to ensure that scrutiny is focussed in those areas where it is likely to have most beneficial impact’.

It follows similar calls by Dr Nagpaul, who said the Government must ‘end the punitive overregulation that’s suffocating general practice – among the top four reasons why GPs want to leave the profession.’

He told the LMCs Conference last month: ‘We managed to get rid of the shameful intelligent monitoring bands, but still have practice ratings without context and circumstance, and which misleads the public with crude proxies that demean the holistic care hard working GPs provide.’

The blueprint also revealed that later this year the RCGP will publish ‘recommendations looking specifically at the patient safety implications of the rise in GP workload levels and the associated dangers presented by GP fatigue’.