• Incentive scheme for CCGs introduces two national measures around GP services
  • One payment triggered if 85 per cent of GP patient survey respondents say they “had a good experience of making an appointment”
  • Payments linked to mental health improvements dropped, including around quality of life and waiting times for emergency cases

Financial incentives for commissioners to improve mental health care will be dropped next year and replaced partly by a new measure aimed at improving GP access.

The incentive scheme for clinical commissioning groups, known as the “quality premium”, will introduce two national measures around GP services in 2016-17, according to guidance published by NHS England.

Breast cancer radiology

Breast cancer radiology

CCGs will need to improve cancer early diagnosis rates in their area

The first incentive payment will be triggered if 85 per cent of GP patient survey respondents say they “had a good experience of making an appointment”, or if there is a 3 per cent improvement on the 2015-16 survey within the CCG’s footprint.

A second measure will be linked to the proportion of referrals made electronically by GPs.

If the measures are not hit, the funding is held back by NHS England.

The changes aim to encourage CCGs to become more involved in managing and developing primary care services. When they were established in 2013, CCGs were not responsible for GP services, though many have now moved to co-commissioning with NHS England.

Current incentives to reduce premature mortality, urgent and emergency care, and mental health care have been dropped.

The mental health payments included measures on waiting times for emergency cases, smoking and employment rates for mental health patients, and quality of life.

NHS England and the Department of Health have repeatedly stressed their commitment to improving mental health services and ensuring parity of esteem with physical health care.

A third new incentive is aimed at cancer care. CCGs will need to improve early diagnosis rates in their area to receive the payment.

The only incentive being retained from this year is around reducing prescription rates for antibiotics, although the detailed measures within this have changed.

The overall quality premium, 70 per cent of which will depend on the national measures described above, is worth up to £270m.

The other 30 per cent is linked to locally determined targets.

Trusts must reduce staff stress to get bonus payments