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Tories to reshape QOF to focus on public health outcomes

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Conservatives have released details of their plans to radically reshape the QOF to focus more on health prevention.

If elected, the Tories will pilot a scheme to link GPs' income more closely to the public health outcomes they deliver – the results of which will be used to redesign the QOF to ensure GPs play a greater role in improving public health.

GPs will be handed new incentives for making preventative interventions in areas such as obesity, drinking, and smoking, in a bid to reduce patients' need for serious treatment.

The proposals are among a raft of initiatives contained in A Healthier Nation, the party's new Green Paper aimed at tackling public health issues.

It follows the party's draft manifesto for the upcoming general election – launched last week – which pledged to link GPs' pay to the quality of the results they deliver, to focus more on clinical outcomes and public health.

The paper also contains more details on the Tories' plans to weight public health funding in order to divert extra resources to the poorest areas with the worst health outcomes.

The new ‘Health Premium' incentive will reward communities and providers that make progress against public health outcomes, with the highest payments for the most deprived communities that currently have the poorest health outcomes.

The paper also pledges to dispose of the ‘confusing' units system for labelling alcohol, in favour of details on what volume of alcoholic drinks contain - as well as how many calories.

Launching the Green Paper this morning, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley, said: ‘We will ensure that rewards follow results in a system of local accountability for resources and decision-making. We think that this system of payment by results will also provide a powerful mechanism to improve the health of the poorest fastest.'

Mr Lansley added: ‘We know that deprived communities have some of the worst and most entrenched public health problems. That's why we will introduce a new ‘Health Premium' to target public health resources towards areas with the poorest health, and reward those areas for the improvements they achieve.'

‘In place of Labour's addiction to short-term initiatives that disappear without results and without trace, we will incentivise and lock in local innovation to improve the health of our poorest communities.'

Commenting on the Conservative plans Dr Anna Dixon, acting chief executive of The King's Fund, said: ‘With the NHS facing a perfect storm of funding pressures and rising demand, the Conservatives are right to focus on public health and prevention.'

‘Separating the public health budget from that for the health service is a bold move and their commitment to reducing health inequalities represents a profound, but welcome, change in Conservative thinking. The real question will be how much funding public health will receive and whether the Conservatives are committing to an increase in current spending on health inequalities.'

Smoking is one of the areas for which GPs will be handed new incentives for making preventative interventions Smoking is one of the areas for which GPs will be handed new incentives for making preventative interventions