BMA’s Northern Ireland general practitioners committee (NIGPC) has welcomed a suspension of the profession’s performance payment system from today in light of the escalating COVID-19 crisis.
Health Minister Robin Swann has agreed to halt the QOF (quality and outcomes framework) in recognition of the immense pressures facing general practice services in the country and the health service as a whole.
Welcoming the announcement, NIGPC chair, Dr Alan Stout, said: “This news will come as a huge relief to practices who have been noticing the strain with increased concern and activity associated with COVID-19.
“The early and definitive decision by our Health Minister shows an understanding and a determination to deal with the unprecedented situation and we are committed to working with him and his department to ensure safe and effective care to the public in Northern Ireland.”
In an announcement made this morning, primary care was assured there will be “will be no financial detriment to practices as a result of this action”. A formal letter on the move will be sent to GPs today.
Practices will also be asked to manage their enhanced service activity in line with the new pressures and in relation to their individual patient’s clinical needs, which means that they will be able to prioritise appropriate patient assessment and treatment.
QOF is a series of targets and performance markers that practices are measured on each year. By this stage in the year most have already been achieved so there will be very little impact on patient care or safety, but it does significantly free practices of the associated bureaucracy that comes with QOF.
Notes to editors
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