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General practice reaps rewards of contract

Published on 02/10/06 at 03:34pm

GPs and patients are continuing to reap the rewards of the new general practice contract, with doctors hitting targets for quality treatment, according to newly published government statistics.

Introduced in April 2004 the new GMS contract and its points-based system the Quality and Outcomes framework (QOF) focuses primary healthcare professionals time on key areas, such as chronic disease management.

This year, the average practice achieved 96% of the points available (1011 out of a possible 1050), up five per cent on 12 months ago.

Health minister Lord Warner said:  "GPs are to be congratulated for delivering high quality services to NHS patients and improving their healthcare. It is right to reward GPs and their staff for increasing the range and quality of the services they provide."

A miscalculation by the Department of Health meant that the NHS spent tens of millions more on paying for the GMS contract in its first two years.

The contract makes England's GPs the best paid in Europe - earning 100,000 on average - but the government say the pay increase has been justified with improvements in care.

"Practices are getting paid more because GPs and their staff are working harder and smarter," said Lord Warner.  "We should remember that the extra advice and support offered to patients on prevention will save people from potentially life threatening conditions and will reduce demands for emergency hospital care."

The health minister said GPs focusing on advising patients on how to stop smoking and tackle blood pressure or cholesterol will save the NHS money in the long-term, and also help bring services closer to patients.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA's General Practitioners Committee, said: "This is great news for patients. The average score out of a possible 1050 points was 1010.5  compared to 958.7 in the first QOF year."

He added: "If you look at the points available for clinical work, the achievement results show that on average, practices achieved 97% of available points. This means that more patients than ever before are being diagnosed promptly and getting the treatment they need."

Prof Mayur Lakhani, chairman of the RCGP, commented: "This is very good news for patients who are having more check ups and better clinical care. This is another year of high levels of achievement and the college wants to thank GPs, practice nurses and staff for their hard work and dedication.

QOF data - highlights

Nearly 80% of patients with CHD who were available and suitable for treatment had a last measured cholesterol level (measured in the past 15 months) of 5mmol/1 or less

94% of patients with CHD who were available and suitable for treatment were taking aspirin or an anti-coagulant

Nearly 70% of CHD patients deemed suitable had received a flu jab in the winter months


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