National Institiue for Health and Clinical Excellence

Annual Review - 2009/2010

More about NICE and the QOF

Setting the standard for high-quality healthcare

Making sure all patients and service users receive high-quality care is a key part of NICE’s work. In 2009/10 NICE began work on NICE quality standards, a new initiative to help the NHS and social care organisations deliver a consistently high standard of care.

NICE quality standards are a set of concise, measurable statements outlining what high-quality care should look like, including which treatments work best, how to maximise patient safety, and describing for patients and the public what constitutes best care and support. NICE quality standards are based on the best evidence available such as NICE guidance and other sources accredited by NHS Evidence.

Development of NICE quality standards on stroke, dementia, specialist neonatal care and preventing blood clots (venous thromboembolism) began in 2009 and are due to be published in summer 2010.

Nicola Bent, Quality Systems Associate Director at NICE, explains the aims of the programme: “NICE quality standards provide a clear set of statements for commissioners, hospital teams and other NHS and social care partner organisations to aspire to and measure their progress against, to achieve excellence along a pathway of care. They also give patients and the public a reference point so they can see if their local healthcare providers are offering them the best care possible.”

Each quality standard is developed by an independent topic expert group, supported by NICE, made up of ten to 15 people with relevant experience including clinicians, public health experts, commissioners, service providers and patients, service users or carers.

To find out more about the Quality Standards programme go to the NICE website.

Rewarding GPs for quality care

In 2009 NICE became involved with the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) ¬– a national incentive scheme for all GP practices in the UK, which financially rewards them for how well they care for patients.

Under the scheme, GP’s practices score points according to their level of achievement against a series of indicators. NICE now manages the process to make sure the clinical and health improvement indicators used in the scheme evolve and are updated to reflect new evidence and rising service standards.

A independent advisory committee of primary care experts was established by NICE to review the current indicators in light of NICE guidance and the latest evidence from NHS Evidence-accredited sources, and to develop the NICE menu of indicators for the QOF.

The NICE menu of indicators will be fed into the yearly negotiations – between NHS Employers (on behalf of the four UK health departments) and the British Medical Association General Practitioners Committee – to decide which indicators should be applied nationally as part of the QOF and what their value and thresholds should be.

Find out more about NICE’s role in the QOF on our website