New GP guidelines are helping to deliver "dramatic improvements" in the treatment of patients with long-term conditions in Scotland, according to a doctors' union.
The Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), found in the GP contract, tasks practices with gathering information on the prevalence of diseases. In turn, this is used by NHS boards to plan services based on patient needs.
As a result, the British Medical Association Scotland (BMA) says patients are now getting consistent, evidence-based care wherever they live.
The QOF, which was introduced in 2004, offers practices up to 1,000 points if they deliver on a range of services, and these points attract financial resources into the practice.
BMA Scotland said the framework was benefiting patients with long-term conditions such as asthma and diabetes, reducing hospital admissions and saving lives.
The BMA Scotland report, The Quality and Outcomes Framework: modernising healthcare delivery and improving the management of patients with long term conditions, draws together findings from various studies which look at the impact of QOF.
NHS Lothian said it was reasonable to conclude that the QOF had contributed to a decline in outpatient attendances at cardiology and diabetes clinics for GP-referred patients, and a decline in admission rates for stroke and type 2 diabetes.
The report also highlighted an Asthma UK study, which said that in England hospital admissions for asthma reduced in areas where QOF achievement was higher.
"The QOF has had a great impact on the service provided by GPs as intervention is more focused, needs are better identified and treatment targeted to specific conditions. It has improved standards of care and created a closer relationship with primary secondary provider services." - V Henry