National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
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2009/048 NICE publishes first menu of potential new indicators for the 2010/11 QOF

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has today (10 August) published the first menu of potential indicators for the 2010/11 Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) together with recommendations on indicators to be considered for retirement. NHS Employers, on behalf of the UK Health Departments will now consult the British Medical Association (BMA) on which indicators should be introduced for the 2010/11 QOF.

Introduced in 2004 the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) is a voluntary annual incentive scheme that rewards GP practices in the UK for implementing systematic improvements in quality of care for patients.  The QOF operates through a points system which rewards GPs for their performance in relation to groups of indicators. These payments range from those relating to clinical and health improvement topics such as coronary heart disease and hypertension to patient experience topics such as the length of consultations. NICE’s role is only concerned with the clinical and health improvement indicators. NICE took over the arrangements for managing the new process of developing indicators and reviewing the existing indicators in April 2009.

The menu of indicators published today was developed under a transitional process using the reports already published by the previous QOF expert panel - a consortium of academic bodies coordinated by the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre (NPCRDC) based at Manchester University. Their recommendations for new QOF indicators were subsequently prioritised by the new independent Primary Care QOF Indicator Advisory Committee during their meetings in June before being published on the NICE website today.

Each indicator is accompanied by a suite of supporting information which provides further information on why the clinical indicator was put forward for consideration by the negotiators for next year’s framework and the potential benefits incentivisation in this area of healthcare will bring, not just to primary care, but across the NHS.

The menu also includes the QOF Advisory Committee’s recommendations on which existing indicators could be considered for retirement from the QOF, in order to encourage further improvements in the quality of patient care and ensure the best use of NHS resources. When making this decision the committee considered the likely impact on patient care of retiring certain indicators from the QOF.

Val Moore, NICE Implementation Director said: “High quality care depends on decisions made on the basis of the best evidence.  Therefore, today’s announcement of NICE’s first menu of potential indicators to be published since NICE officially took up its new role in the development of QOF indicators on 1 April is a significant milestone, not just for the QOF, but also in ensuring optimum health outcomes for patients. The menu highlights clinical areas that evidence shows may benefit from a QOF indicator and uses the recommendations for new indicators previously compiled by the expert panel. It also includes recommendations on existing indicators that may be considered for retirement from the QOF in order to support further improvements in the quality and cost-effectiveness of care offered by Primary Care across the UK. NHS Employers will now negotiate with the General Practitioners Committee on which indicators should be included in the QOF for the period 2010/11.”

The menu of potential new indicators for the 2010/11 QOF, along with the independent QOF Indicator Advisory Committee’s recommendations on existing indicators which should be considered for retirement from the framework, is available on the NICE website: http://www.nice.org.uk/aboutnice/qof/qof.jsp.

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