GPs perform better when looking after patients whose conditions are linked to financial incentives on offer to GP practices, according to new research.
Practices were found to have comparatively better results in relation to 23 indicators associated with the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) programme than with 19 indicators relating to conditions such as arthritis, dementia and back pain, that did not have financial incentives attached to them.
The QOF was introduced in 2004 and, prior to this, quality of care across all sectors was improving. While quality of care for the incentivised indicators improved at a faster rate than expected after QOF was introduced, those conditions that were not part of the scheme saw improvement rates progress at a much slower rate than predicted.
The authors of the research, from the universities of Oxford, Manchester and Bristol, said: "Improvements associated with financial incentives seem to have been achieved at the expense of small detrimental effects on aspects of care that were not incentivised."
Copyright © Press Association 2011
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"They are a bad think, as it diverts money to practices with low mordity and therefore more time to jump through all the QoF hoops – the game ensures a postcode lottery, where the prevalance of long term conditions leads directly to low GP incomes and then to areas becoming under doctored – a double or triple whammy. This is the relationship with a target culture and lack of improvement in health inequality directly relates to bias caused by poorly thought through public health policies" – Dr Nigel Roper, Walton-on-the-naze
"Incentives that reward improved performance are a good thing. No one is going to take more work on for less pay and most of the incentives involve more work" – Alan Morton, Oldham