The number of practices achieving the full 559 QOF points available increased to almost one in seven in 2018/19, compared with one in eight the year before.
At the same time, the average prevalence in 22 of the 26 disease areas increased, meaning practices are having to treat more patients under QOF than the year before (although many of the changes in prevalence were marginal).
Pulse, in conjunction with Pulse Intelligence, analysed the latest QOF data for the 2018/19 year, released last month by NHS Digital.
The figures are impressive, says Swindon GP and QOF expert Dr Gavin Jamie: ‘Nearly 900 practices earned all the available points, a very considerable achievement and, again, an increase on last year. Only 7.6% of practices achieved less than 90% of the available points.’
BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey says: ‘We can see that more practices are achieving all the points across the full range of indicators, and by identifying more patients with particular conditions we are able to provide more specific care for them.’
He adds: ‘The growing number of conditions GPs are dealing with does increase pressure on practices. It is therefore essential to have the necessary investment in an expanded workforce to meet the growing needs of the population.’
The highest increase in prevalence was in depression – from 9.9% in 2017/18 to 10.7% in 2018/19 – but this is mainly because patients diagnosed since 2006 continue to be added to the register.
Prevalence also increased in obesity. Dr Jamie says: ‘This may be down to better coding by GPs, as well as to an actual increase in the prevalence among patients. Over a quarter of a million additional patients were put onto the obesity register this year – more than 10% of adult patients now appear on that register.’
There has been a rise in the rate of exception reporting by GP practices, with osteoporosis registering the largest rise, to 22.2% from 19.3%.
But the BMA GP Committee has suggested commissioners want to crack down on high exception reporting. NHS England is pushing for GP IT systems to continue prompting GPs to invite patients for QOF checks, even if a patient has ignored previous invites.
To understand your own practice’s 2018/19 QOF performance in detail and compare your payments on each area with previous years and with peer practices in England, check out the QOF section on Pulse Intelligence.