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QOF changes could harm patients, say Leeds GPs

GPs say annual BP checks in stable patients waste valuable appointment time

Lousie Prime

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Changes that the Government imposed to the GP contract in April actually threaten rather than improve patient care, believe most GPs in Leeds. The BMA reports that more than two-thirds of those who responded to a survey by Leeds local medical committee said the quality and outcomes framework (QOF) changes could lead to patient harm.

Of the 83 people (70 GPs and 13 practice nurses) who responded to Leeds LMC’s survey, only three said they believed that the QOF changes would lead to better clinical care, whereas almost seven in ten (69%) said the changes could damage patient care. Deputy chair of the BMA’s general practitioners committee, Dr Richard Vautrey – who is also Leeds LMC’s assistant medical secretary – called this result “staggering”.

One GP wrote that it was distracting to be constantly looking out for QOF indicators rather than concentrating on the patient’s presenting problem, and another believed that tasks related to improving public health outcomes are overwhelming GPs.

Dr Vautrey commented: “This [survey] highlights the concerns that GPs and practice nurses have about the massive workload issues ... and concerns that the latest changes to the contract potentially could undermine some of their ability to provide good care to their patients.”

Most respondents to the survey called for the removal of QOF indicators related to hypertension and a physical activity questionnaire, as well as asking men with diabetes every year about erectile dysfunction. Some queried the necessity of annual blood pressure checks in patients whose blood pressure was relatively stable.

Dr Vautrey said: “GPs responded saying we could do with these tests being done every two or three or even five years in a much more clinically relevant way, which would reduce workload and would not undermine patient care.

“Indeed, this would enhance patient care because it would make more appointments available for other patients.”

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