QOF changes for 2008/9

The BMA has released details of the changes to QOF targets for the year 2008-9. Actually this is more a summary of where the changes are as the detailed guidance is not yet out, and it is in the detail that the interesting details are located.

The headline is probably the removal of fifty eight and a half points largely from the organisational domain but five points have also been take from the COPD spirometry measurement section. The spirometry has also been made more explicit in asking for post bronchodilator spirometry.

There are some other minor changes. They are worth knowing early because they may be difficult to catch up with later in the year. There is now a requirement to refer all patients with stroke or TIA within one month of diagnosis. Along with the spirometry changes this will apply to new diagnoses from the first of April 2008. The reference date for ECG investigation in atrial fibrillation has also been moved to the same date.

One of the changes with widest effect may be the changes to the smoking area - particularly as it affects around one in five patients. As it stands this refers only to the clinical area on smoking which refers to those with diabetes, cardiovascular and lung disease. Patients with psychotic and bipolar disease have now been added to this area (probably a drop in the ocean) and the criteria have changed. Currently if a person had never smoked then you didn't have to ask them again. If they had ever smoked they needed to be asked annually. Now all patients under 27 need to be asked annually and you can stop asking those 27 and over who have never smoked or have not smoked for over three years. My sympathies go to whoever has to write the business rules for that one.

In practical terms this is likely to mean fewer patients needing coding over the course of the year as there are few patients under 27 years old on the chronic disease registers. The BMA guidance seems to suggest that there is to be no change to the organisational smoking indicators which apply to the whole of the practice population over 15 years old. As it stands it would appear that the old rules (if they have ever smoked then you need to ask annually) still apply to RECORDS 22. This would seem to be an odd situation, but I am sure that they have spotted it already!

Finally prevalence day is being moved to March 31st from next year which makes a lot more sense. It takes seconds to do the calculation on a computer and allowing six weeks turned out to be overkill.

Update 1st April

A Department of Health letter landed on my desk today confirming that the smoking rules apply to both the clinical and organisational sections.

Surgery search improved

I have changed the search system slightly to (hopefully) give better results. Previously you could use wildcards e.g. Car* would give Carlisle and Cardiff. This was hardly ever used and the search tended to give very long lists of unhelpful results.

You now can't use wildcards but the results should be better. For more general QOF queries over many web sites the Google search is still there. It searches on selected QOF related sites without all of the stuff about GnuCash and Hebrew characters you tend to get on a full Google search.

The vote is out

The GPC announced the result last week of the poll of GP opinions on the two possible contract options from April. The summary is basically that GPs are not happy but have voted for option A as the least worst of a bad bunch. Lots about this in the media although some have portrayed it as an agreement to do extended hours. It is not. This was about what will be taken away from practices. Whether practices offer extended ours will depend on the DES specification. That judgement will be made individually by the 8000 odd practices in England and in similar ways across the rest of the UK and Ireland.

In practical terms for this website it means that the loss calculation is no longer relevant as it only applied to the potential imposition. There is simply not enough data available to calculate the loss for the current proposals. The DES calculator is still running with the best information that is coming out in an official form. You can find a link to this in the left hand menu on the practice summary page for each practice. This applies to England only as there was no comparable patient survey in the other countries, or at least not one that I am aware of.

I am taking the link to the loss calculator off the practice pages to avoid confusion. The direct URL should work for the foreseeable future but if you want or need access to the data then drop me a line.