The British Medical Association (BMA) has officially requested the National Health Service England for a national suspension of the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) for this year to release pressure on GPs and allow GPs to focus on patient care.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the chair of the BMA’s GP committee (GPC) has written letter to the national body saying that such a move would relieve GPs who are facing exhausting workloads this winter. The letter references an agreement between the Welsh Government and BMA Wales, which allows practices to opt-out of 75 per cent of QOF for the rest of this year to give GPs more time to care for patients.
Dr Nagpaul wrote to the Director of NHS commissioning, Ros Roughton saying there is no doubt that practices in England are under significant workload pressures. He said the NHS England does all it can do to relieve the winter pressure so that practices can prioritise the care of serious cases and provide care to the most vulnerable.
Despite the BMA’s official request to NHS England, some local commissioners are already seeking to bend the rules following NHS Wales’ decision as three Leeds Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) permitted GPs to opt-out of up to 80 per cent of the QOF.
All GP practices have been informed of the 2 month QOF suspension, which will apply to most of the 559 ‘clinical points’ excluding those concerning flu targets, cancer and the maintenance of disease registers.
Richard Vautrey, the BMA GPC’s deputy chair and assistant medical secretary on Leeds LMC called the decision as an “encouraging step forward”. He noticed an increasing understanding that GPs are under winter pressures as much as A&E departments.
The BMA has called on NHS England to follow Northern Ireland and Wales in suspending the QOF while also placing pressure on central government to give GP services “badly” needed extra funding, he added.
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