Thursday, 23 October 2014

Paying GPs £55 for diagnosing dementia

Readers in other countries may not be aware of a news story that is currently causing some controversy in the UK,  There is a proposal that GPs should be paid £55 for every case of dementia they diagnose (as I understand it, the money would go to the practice rather than to the GP personally).

Amongst the points that have been raised:

* Why should anyone be paid more for simply doing their job which diagnosis is part of?

* In reality when GPs suspect that a patient may have dementia they will normally refer them to a memory clinic/service for tests and scans and, hopefully, a confident diagnosis.

* There is anecdotal evidence that some GPs fail to spot the signs of dementia, particularly in younger people and, certainly, it would be unwise to assume that a GP can make an accurate diagnosis of the condition.  I've read of two cases recently where people have been wrongly diagnosed as having dementia.  In one case, a woman sold her house to pay for care and spent over a year in a care home before the error was discovered.

* A distinction needs to be made between a diagnosis of the condition we call dementia and a diagnosis of one or more of the diseases that cause the condition. If it's clear that the diagnosis of dementia is not always easy, diagnosis of the disease(s) can be very difficult. It is true to say that a definite diagnosis can only be made post mortem  -  if then.

* Is it wise to rush to diagnose people with a condition for which there is no cure and for which the only treatments are, for many people, inadequate or worse?
I've discussed this in earlier posts which you can find by using the search box (top left).

* Many people living with dementia, and their carers, feel that adequate support post-diagnosis should be the number one priority.  There's also a fear that a rapid increase in the number of diagnoses made will simply put more pressure on support services which are, in many cases, already falling apart or non-existent.

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