Bounty for Dementia diagnosis?

Posted by Patricia Wakeford on

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This morning I was driving to work and listening to Radio 4. I was shocked to hear on the News that GPs are to be given a £55 payment for every Dementia diagnosis. My initial thoughts were of conflict of interest, GPs should be diagnosing this condition anyway and what good is just receiving a diagnosis if there are no follow on plans put in place.

I am very pleased to say that on reading more information that there is more to this than a sensational news headline. Under the scheme, doctors would receive the money for every extra patient given a diagnosis of dementia over a six-month period.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said it was "a distortion of good medical practice.

We know GPs receive incentive payments to find all sorts of conditions, such as high cholesterol, raised blood pressure and diabetes - but this seems a step too far. It is putting a bounty on the head of certain patients," she said.

"Good GPs will be diagnosing their dementia patients already. This seems to be rewarding poor GPs. There is an issue of people presenting late with dementia to doctors, but this is not the right way to go about tackling that. If people were given hope that something could be done, that would be the greatest incentive for coming early."

NHS England said it was "not just payment for diagnosis" and GP practices would have to form a detailed plan and show improving diagnosis rates. There are many types but all tend to affect brain function and cause problems with memory, mental agility, language skills and the ability to carry out everyday tasks.

800,000 people are thought to have Dementia but only half of these have been formally diagnosed. I appreciate the impact that this devastating condition can have on family and friends as my father had Dementia. Every time I went to see him I wondered if he would remember who I was. When he did; I got my Dad back for a short time.

I now feel that this 'payment' to GPs is unlikely to encourage them to do more to diagnose such patients unless they know that there are systems in place to ensure that once a diagnosis is made, something can be done about it. There is no cure yet, but steps could be taken to improve quality of life for the sufferer and the family members.

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About the Author

Photograph of Patricia Wakeford

Patricia is a Senior Associate, in our Clinical Negligence team, and is also a qualified midwife with many years of experience working in the NHS.

Patricia Wakeford
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023 8085 7310

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