BMA Insists Quality Care 'Remains Universal'

Top UK doctors are insisting that any changes to the Government's 'Quality and Outcomes Framework' (QOF) must build on what they say are the "significant improvements in quality and consistency of care that its introduction has already achieved".

It must not lead instead to a 'postcode lottery' in patient care, the British Medical Association (BMA) said this week.

Commenting on the launch of an important Department of Health consultation document on the QOF, Dr Laurence Buckman, Chairman of the BMA's GP Committee (GPC), said: "The introduction of the QOF into the new GP contract marked a huge step forward in the Government's promise to address health inequalities across the UK.

"It is doing exactly what it was supposed to do by ensuring that patients get consistent, evidence-based care wherever they live.

"It has introduced a systematic process of care for the diseases responsible for the majority of the deaths in this country - in short QOF saves lives," the top GP said.

However, he also said: "We would be concerned if this review undermined this vital national approach to quality standards.

"There is the possibility of a 'postcode lottery' in patient care developing if Primary Care Organisations can choose 'which bits' of QOF they want to provide," he continued.

"Patients should expect the same high quality of care wherever they live in the UK.

"It was always intended that QOF should evolve as the evidence improves and since its inception approximately a quarter of it has changed," he said, noting that its evolution under official 'NICE' guidance must continue to be based on evidence that interventions in primary care make a difference to patients, to ensure that the improvements we have seen in clinical care continue.

"Any changes as a result of the review will still require contractual negotiation and as such the GPC expects to continue to have a full role in QOF development in the future," he concluded, adding that the BMA will be responding formally to the Department of Health consultation.


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