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NHS screening GPs giving alcohol advice – linked to pay

In 2008 the Department of Health in England introduced financial incentives to encourage GPs to talk to patients about their drinking. There was a small, gradual increase in screening and the provision of alcohol advice. 

However, when the incentives stopped in 2015, rates of screening and advice-giving decreased immediately.

Under the incentive scheme, participating practices were paid £2.38 for each newly registered adult patient they screened for higher-risk drinking. The scheme was withdrawn in April 2015.

A paper analysing the incentive states: “Removing a financial incentive for alcohol prevention in English primary care was associated with an immediate and sustained reduction in the rate of screening for alcohol use and brief advice provision.”

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