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GP practices improve on QOF performance for second year

GP practices in England have upped their performance on QOF slightly for a second year running, with practices gaining an extra three points on average last year.

Overall practices achieved just over 95% of the total 559 points available in 2015/16, the latest annual report from NHS Digital shows – up slightly on the previous year.

GP experts said overall the report was ‘good news’ for practices and showed the QOF had ‘settled down’ after big changes in previous years that had impacted negatively on practice income.

In all, 640 practices achieved the maximum number of points, up from 448 practices in 2014/15.

Dr Gavin Jamie, a GP in Swindon and expert in QOF, said: ‘The average number of points gained by each practice is up by over three points, which is good news for practices. This partially seems to reflect improvement in the osteoporosis area, which was where there was most opportunity to make up the points.’

Dr Jamie added: ‘Overall these are the results we might expect from a mature framework with contents familiar to GPs. After years of constant change things have settled and seem to be working well. The value of the QOF is nearly half of what it was at its peak (it started with 1050 points) but, to my mind, is more focused than it has ever been. These results show consistent achievement – there is no sign of “end of life” here.’

Hypertension and obesity remained the most commonly diagnosed conditions, but depression overtook asthma as the third most prevalent illness. An extra 0.5m patients registered with the condition – a 14% increase in diagnoses bringing the total registered to 3.8m. This follows a similar rise between 2013/14 and 2014/15 – although officials previously attributed that increase to a change in the coding.

Meanwhile in the devolved nations, GPs in Wales were praised for achieving nearly 97% of the maximum QOF score for a second year running.

Wales Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said: ‘These recent performance results demonstrate that GPs are working hard to provide their patients with high quality care and performing well against demanding targets.’

Northern Ireland practices have similarly maintained their achievement at nearly 99% of the maximum available points, while in Scotland – where practices stopped reporting QOF this year – overall performance was almost 98% in 2015/16.

The latest figures come as GPC negotations with the Government could see QOF removed from the GP contract in England from next year.

NHS England chief Simon Stevens recently stated the framework had reached the ‘end of its useful life’ and would be phased out.