Back in April this year I wrote a blog which questioned an idea being considered by Health Minister – Paul Burstow. Perhaps he should have been reading it, because recent research seems to support what I was saying.
About a quarter of GPs’ total salary is linked to bonuses for achieving certain targets like measuring blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Sure enough the measurements increased and the GPs got their extra salary (£1billion in total every year !) The unintended consequence was that in medical conditions that were not so easily measured – arthritis, dementia, back pain, depression – quality was significantly worse. At that time there were no bonus payments for these ailments, so it is hardly surprising that less attention was paid to them.
To make matters worse, researchers at Nottingham University, who studied the high blood pressure measurements, found “little evidence” of effectiveness of pay for performance targets.