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23.01.17

Wales relaxes GP incentive scheme in bid to ease winter pressures

The Welsh government has relaxed the majority of the quality and outcomes framework (QOF), the programme which financially incentivises GPs to meet quality of care indicators, in order to ease the pressures they face in their practices this winter.

The agreement, secured by BMA Cymru Wales, will see practices paid until the end of March for all QOF indicators based on their achievement last year.

The only exceptions left open by the government are flu vaccinations and working in clusters, while GPs will remain able to opt into indicators if they wish to improve them.

Charlotte Jones, chair of BMA Welsh GPs committee, said: “This welcome move will have a positive effect on practices by reducing bureaucracy and box ticking, as well as releasing capacity which will enable GPs and practice nurses to focus on the complex care needs of their patients at a particularly busy time.

“We are committed to working in partnership with the Welsh government to continue improving working conditions for GPs in Wales, and this agreement demonstrates what can be achieved through collaboration on an agreed vision.”

The Welsh government said the move will give GPs and practice nurses more time to manage their most vulnerable and chronically ill patients over the winter period.

It also confirmed that no GP practice will lose out financially as a result of the relaxation of the QOF, and it remains committed to working “positively and collaboratively” to improve patient access to services.  

“The positive action we’ve taken today will help ease pressure on primary care,” said Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething AM.  “I’d like to thank GP and practice nurses across Wales for their hard work and commitment to their patients during this busy winter period.

“Instead of patients being called in for routine appointments automatically at the busiest time of the year, doctor and practice nurses’ time will be freed up to see patients, prioritising those urgently requesting appointments because they are ill.”

The Welsh government and BMA Cymru Wales are not the only organisations looking to help the NHS do its job this winter. Last week NHE revealed that the CQC is fast-tracking re-inspections of care homes in order to reopen bed capacity.

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