NICE unveils new QOF indicators
NICE has announced a new set of Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) indicators for use in 2012/13, which it says will help drive up the quality of care across general practice.
The proposed indicators were developed by an independent Advisory Committee chaired by Dr Colin Hunter (Skene Medical Group, Aberdeenshire) and features new items targeting areas such as smoking cessation, hypertension, asthma and fragility fractures.
All indicators have been tested across general practice to ensure they work, said Christine Carson, Programme Director of NICE's Centre for Clinical Practice. The new QOF menu will now be negotiated by NHS Employers and the General Practitioners Committee, with a final decision due in the winter.
Existing QOF indicators to be retired include items on the management of depression, diabetes, epilepsy, and atrial fibrillation.
Already, however, several groups have expressed concern over the proposal to drop the depression indicators, which will mean that GPs are no longer incentivised to use validated assessment tools to monitor patients with depression.
Dr Hunter said the decision to drop them reflected feedback from GPs indicating that the assessment tools were not "fit for purpose" and risked overdiagnosis leading to inappropriate prescription of antidepressants.
But mental health campaigners said scrapping the depression indicators in their entirety, rather than attempting to review and refine them, was "reckless" and could put patients at risk.
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By Joanna Lyford