Magazine article Public Finance

GP Quality Cash 'Might Not Improve Care'

Magazine article Public Finance

GP Quality Cash 'Might Not Improve Care'

Article excerpt

Academics have cast doubt on the Department of Healths claim that its £200m quality payments' to GPs are tied to real improvements in patient care.

Research by Richard Fleetcroft and Richard Cookson of the University of East Anglia found a 'real danger that the incentive payments may skew activity towards highly rewarded labour-intensive activities with relatively low benefits to population health'.

The academics tested the incentive payments available to GPs under the new Quality Outcomes Framework, which were announced last week, against an earlier, authoritative study that ranked cardiac treatments according to their likelihood to save lives.

The points awarded under the QOF are based on the likely workload of each specified treatment. However, Fleetcroft and Cookson found that 'workload does not appear to be well correlated with likely health gain.

They warned: 'Activities that deliver greater health gains but receive less - or no - financial incentive maybe downplayed: what is not incentivised may be marginalised."

David Jenner, new contracts lead at the NHS Alliance, welcomed the research and said that, while the QOF represented an important step forward for improving care standards in the NHS, the framework had also been designed as a way to increase GP salaries. …

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