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Q&A: QOF suspensions

What have GPs been allowed to do in Somerset?

Practices have been given the go-ahead to abandon QOF achievement reporting for the last three months of the financial year.

What do they have to do instead?

Each practice must ‘actively participate’ in drawing up a plan for the redesign of local GP services.

Will they still be paid?

Yes. Each practice will receive QOF payments for January to March 2014 based on their 2012/13 achievement.

What happens after April?

Practices testing the new model of primary care in Somerset will be able to opt out of the QOF and work to the new local targets instead. However, practices will continue to be reimbursed for QOF work, based on their 2012/13 achievement.

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Do all GPs have to take part?

Practices were given the option of joining in the scheme or continuing with the QOF. Of 75 practices in Somerset, 70 have so far signed up.

What if GPs change their mind?

Practices can pull out if they wish to and revert to the national QOF arrangements.

Are other areas of the country also dropping QOF work?

So far practices in two other areas have been told they can stop reporting QOF indicators that will be dropped from the national contract from April, in return for starting work early on the new unplanned admissions DES. They will also be paid for the remainder of the year based on QOF achievement for 2012/13. Other CCGs have asked their local area teams for the same treatment, but have been turned down.

What does the GPC say?

The GPC is unhappy with the Somerset arrangement, arguing it undermines the national contract and could backfire on participating practices. Negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash says: ‘I think practices need to be very careful that they don’t end up with very stringent [key performance indicators] that actually make them end up with a worse deal.’

What does NHS England say?

NHS England has backed local area teams in allowing some practices to opt out of the QOF, calling the move an example of an ‘innovative solution to commissioning primary care’.