Dementia diagnosis payment scheme to be discontinued

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The NHS in England has announced that the controversial scheme to pay GPs £55 per dementia diagnosis is to be discontinued.

According the chief executive at the NHS, Simon Stevens, this initiative will end in April, which is the deadline for a targeted improvement in diagnosis rates.

Many GPs branded the scheme ‘an ethical travesty’ and around 50 requested that Mr Stevens discontinue it.

The scheme was introduced with the aim of improving diagnosis rates for dementia, however GPs have stated that it could have tragic consequences, as doctors may incorrectly state that patients suffer from the condition, to gain access to the fee.

At present, less than 50% of the 850000 dementia sufferers based in England have received a formal diagnosis. The Government has set a target of 66% to be diagnosed by April.

Mr Stevens has now indicated that the scheme will not be renewed after April.

He said it was too early for them to state whether the scheme had been effective. He said it was too early for hindsight and they have to look at an annual rate before they can do so.

The deputy chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee, Dr Richard Vautrey, said it was good to see that NHS England have listened to the BMA and GPs who raised their concerns about the Government’s direct link of payments to set targets.

He said decisions regarding an individual’s care should not be based on financial gain, but on clinical need, and although dementia diagnoses are important, it should not be done in a manner that could undermine the relationship between doctor and patient.

He added that instead of wasting money on pre-election, short-term targets, it would be more beneficial that investment in GP services is made as this will allow the doctors to offer proper care or provide proper resources to meet the real needs of patients, such as community support and timely memory clinic appointments.

The latest data related to the scheme indicates that in excess of 40% of GPs signed up for the scheme, or were planning to.

Image Credit: Hey Paul Studios

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