Smoking indicators

The business rules for the QOF are rather murky place and I am grateful to a couple of people who have pointed out some odd things happening in the smoking cessation areas

Just as a reminder smoking cessation advice now applies to all patients in the practice who are over 15 years old and smoke. There is a difference between those with chronic disease and those without that those with chronic disease should have the advice annually (well, within 15 months of the end of the QOF year) and those without within two years (27 months). So for this year the smoking cessation advice requirements applied since January 2011, or 14 months before the business rules actually came out.

Despite fairly minimal change to the wording the actual smoking cessation indicator has changed. Two codes are now needed to pass this indicator. One code from each of the two following groups. The fist group is basically the same codes as before. The patient should receive advice or be referred or pointed to self referral to a smoking cessation clinic.

8CALSmoking Cessation Advice
8HTKReferral to stop smoking clinic
8HkQReferral to NHS stop smoking service
8H7iReferral to smoking cessation advisor
8IAjSmoking cessation advice declined
8IEKA declined code
9N2KSeen by smoking cessation advisor
13p50Practice based smoking cessation programme start date
9NdfConsent given for follow up by smoking cessation team
9NdgDeclined consent for follow up by smoking cessation team

This is all pretty sensible. Most of the evidence points to a good smoking cessation clinic improving quit rates. However there is now a second part that requires a prescription to be issued. Note in both these areas there is a declined code. I use EMIS PCS at work and the declined codes are not yet available on the system. That is 17 months after they could first require to be entered.

745HSmoking cessation therapy (and all its subtypes)
8B3fNicotine replacement therapy provided free
8B2bNicotine replacement therapy
8B3YOver the counter nicotine replacement therapy
8IEMA declined code
RxSmoking cessation product prescription

Quite how this helps anything is beyond me. We have a local smoking cessation clinic that does not (or nor does it need to) inform me every time they advice someone to get some patches at the chemist. Logically the most sensible thing for me to do would be to throw patches at patients like confetti. This is likely expensive for my PCT/CCG and, in the curse of QOF, it seems that nicotine therapy may actually reduce quit rates.

Even the evidence quoted in the official guidelines is confused and muddled.

It would be nice if these retrospective changes were corrected in the next ruleset although past experience suggests that this is policy and not error and change is unlikely.