GPs delivering better services for patients, statistics show
Family doctors in England have earned top marks for the quality of services to patients and the performance of their surgeries, latest figures reveal.
Data published today by The Information Centre for health and social care shows an overall increase in achievement and a big rise in the number of GP practices achieving a maximum score during 2005-2006, the second year of the Quality and Outcomes framework (QOF).
QOF is the reward and incentive programme introduced as part of the GP contract in 2004. It is a voluntary process that awards surgeries points for specific aspects of clinical care, how well the practice is organised, the patient experience and the extra services offered – such as child health and maternity services. The more points the practice achieves, and the more services they provide, the more money they earn, although the final sum paid to practices is also adjusted to take account of their workload and the relative health of patients in their area.
On average GP practices achieved 96 per cent (1,011) of the available 1,050 points during 2005-2006. This compares with an average of 959 points (91 per cent) in 2004/05. Nearly one-in ten (813) of GP surgeries achieved top marks of 1,050 points a significant increase on the 222 practices (under 3 per cent) to score maximum points in the first year of the QOF.
In general, practices improved in relation to the measures of clinical care in all of the 11 disease areas covered by the QOF, achieving an average score of 534 points (97 per cent) compared with 508 points (92 per cent) in 2004/05. The maximum of 550 points was achieved by 1,661 practices (20 per cent) in 2005/06, substantially more than the 564 practices (7 per cent) in 2004/05.
Scores for practice organisation, which included measures of the range of appointment times available, also rose, from an average of 161 points in the first year to 172 in 2005-2006. This now represents 93 per cent of the 184 points available.
More practices carried out satisfaction surveys and met the target for consultation length to boost the average patient experience score to 97 (97 per cent), of the maximum 100 points available. This compares with an average for 2004/05 of 93 points (93 per cent).
The provision of extra services, such as contraception and maternity services, also improved overall with practices on average achieving 35 (97 per cent) of the available 36 points. The average for the previous year was 34 points (95 per cent)
Professor Denise Lievesley, The Information Centre’s Chief Executive, said: “The data indicates a second year of high levels of achievement, which must be good news for patients, and provides GPs and practice staff with evidence of their value to the health service.”
The data highlights variations in prevalence across the country. High blood pressure (hypertension) varies most and is the condition that affects the highest proportion of patients. Dorset and Somerset has the highest percentage of patients with high blood pressure (14 per cent), North Central London has the lowest (10 per cent).
Easy access to data
The online results database does not include prevalence data, which can be found on The Information Centre’s main web site www.ic.nhs.uk along with detailed information on QOF and the full set of data tables from 2004-2005 and 2005-2006.
Professor Lievesley commented: “Patients and the public now have easy access to this useful data that indicates how well their surgery is doing with respect to these measures. We hope that the information is of value especially when used alongside additional information including, very importantly, their own experiences.”
Notes for editors