GPs perform better when looking after patients whose conditions are linked to financial incentives on offer to GP practices, according to new research.
Practices were found to have comparatively better results in relation to 23 indicators associated with the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) programme than with 19 indicators relating to conditions such as arthritis, dementia and back pain, that did not have financial incentives attached to them.
The QOF was introduced in 2004 and, prior to this, quality of care across all sectors was improving. While quality of care for the incentivised indicators improved at a faster rate than expected after QOF was introduced, those conditions that were not part of the scheme saw improvement rates progress at a much slower rate than predicted.
The authors of the research, from the universities of Oxford, Manchester and Bristol, said: "Improvements associated with financial incentives seem to have been achieved at the expense of small detrimental effects on aspects of care that were not incentivised."