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QOF suspension confirmed for GP practices in Northern Ireland

QOF suspension confirmed for GP practices in Northern Ireland

QOF targets have been suspended for the rest of the 2016/17 financial year in Northern Ireland to ease pressure on practices, health service leaders have confirmed.

Confirmation that the framework will be suspended in Northern Ireland is likely to further exasperate GP leaders in England, which is now the only part of the UK where the QOF has not been either suspended or discontinued.

A letter to GP practices from the Northern Ireland health and social care board's general medical services director Dr Margaret O'Brien said: "Practices will not be expected to complete work against their QOF targets for the rest of the financial year due to the immediate pressures facing GP services."

The letter, dated 10 February, explains that practices can choose whether to be paid on their actual 2016/17 QOF achievement or average performance over the past two years.

Practices that took part in a 'QOF holiday' offered in 2015/16 will have the option to be paid for 2016/17 based on average 2013/14 and 2014/15 achievement. NHS Wales confirmed in mid-January that practices would no longer be required to hit most QOF targets for the rest of 2016/17, and in Scotland the framework has been dropped as part of ongoing plans to overhaul the GP contract.

The QOF has been frozen for 2017/18 under the GP contract deal announced last week, but the value of each point will rise by 3.6% - just over £6 - to reflect changes in average practice list size.

GPs in Northern Ireland are poised to resign en masse from the NHS over a crisis that has left general practice in the country on the brink of collapse. Northern Ireland GPC chair Dr Tom Black said earlier this year that the collapse of the government - with a general election now looming on 2 March - had made it inevitable that GPs would quit the NHS.

Source: GP Online

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