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Letter: QOF inequality doesn’t align to ‘NHS values’

Letter: QOF inequality doesn’t align to ‘NHS values’

My brother-in-law recently passed the Life in the UK test, and is now the proud bearer of a blue passport. Joking that he probably now knew more about Britain than I did, he asked me if I could list the five ‘British Values’.

Indeed, I couldn’t! Can you? So given that the values are supposed to underpin our behaviours and aspirations, I decided to look them up.

The five ‘British Values’ are: democracy; the rule of law; individual liberty; mutual respect; and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs.

Given the recent heartache felt by many GP practices over the perceived inequity of the QOF immunisation indicator, I wondered how the QOF and NHS policy are influenced by values.

For example, the immunisation QOF indicators don’t permit patient exemptions – but does this align with the ‘British value’ of ‘individual liberty’?

Indeed, the NHS itself has six values: working together for patients; respect and dignity; commitment to quality of care; compassion; improving lives; and how everyone counts.

Does the implementation of a QOF indicator that was predicted to negatively affect practices serving deprived and vulnerable patient groups align with the values of ‘improving lives’ and ‘everyone counting’? I would suggest that it doesn’t.

However, there is an opportunity to demonstrate that the NHS values have true practical value and aren’t just pretty words on a page. For example, a timely review of this QOF indicator would be in keeping with ‘working together for patients’ and a ‘commitment to quality of care’. Let’s ask ourselves what our values are, and if we really mean to live by them.

Dr Marcia Chamberlain is a GP partner in Nottingham