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GP bonuses have not improved health

GP bonuses have not improved health

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A financial bonus scheme for GPs has done little to improve patients' health despite costing billions of pounds, a new report has claimed.

The Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) was introduced in 2004 and offers financial rewards to GPs who meet a range of targets.

But the King's Fund think tank said the scheme had done little to improve public health and had not reduced existing inequalities between different groups.
A financial bonus scheme for GPs has done little to improve patients' health despite costing billions of pounds, a new report has claimed.

The Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) was introduced in 2004 and offers financial rewards to GPs who meet a range of targets.

But the King's Fund think tank said the scheme had done little to improve public health and had not reduced existing inequalities between different groups.

GPs can gain QOF rewards for improving the management of chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes, improving the organisation of their practice or asking for patient feedback.

QOF points are also given to practices which offer extra services, such as maternity and child health.

GP practice partners saw their average income rise from £72,000 in 2002/03 to £113,000 in 2005/06 as a result of QOF.

The payments now account for around a third of average practice earnings and more than 20% of a GP's annual income is related to quality, figures show.

In the first year of QOF, practices achieved more than 90% of available QOF points, putting the cost in 2005/06 alone at £1.15 billion.

However, the study found few incentives for GPs to try to improve public health. And while QOF has been effective in pushing practices to adopt improved approaches to, for example, identifying and detecting illness, there is no evidence it has prevented ill health.

The report added: "The QOF, as currently structured, has not given general practice incentives to undertake primary prevention and public health activities."

Copyright © Press Association 2011

The King's Fund

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