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GPs to get extra cash for dementia over next 6 months

Part of funding boost for general practice announced earlier this month

Caroline White

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

GPs are to get a lump sum of £55 for every patient they diagnose with dementia under new plans from NHS England.

The new 6 month scheme forms part of a £5 million funding boost for general practice, announced by NHS chief executive Simon Stevens at the Royal College of General Practitioners conference earlier this month.

But the service is optional, and bases payment on the net increase in the dementia register at the end of March 2015, compared with the end of September 2014.

This move is part of NHS England's ongoing push to uncover the pool of people with the condition who remain to be diagnosed. It wants two-thirds of people with dementia to be picked up and diagnosed by April 2015.

In September, data, for the first time, became available from over 90% of practices, which showed that progress towards this target was much lower than expected, with a gap of around 90,000 people.

Dr Martin McShane, National Director for Long Term Conditions at NHS England, said: “Dementia can be devastating both for individuals and their families. We know that more needs to be done across the health service to ensure that people living with dementia are identified so that they can get the tailored care and support they need. This additional investment is part of a larger range of measures to support GPs in their work tackling [it].”

NHS England has emphasised that the payment is designed to incentivise a proactive approach to diagnosis of dementia for patients at clinical risk, and that it is not just payment for a diagnosis.

Practices will now be asked to work with a CCG on a clear plan to identify more patients. They will work closely with nursing and care homes as well as ensuring that all patients diagnosed in a hospital have their records clearly flagged.

This will help CCGs ensure there is the right capacity in clinics and where there are delays, GPs can raise it with the CCG, says NHS England.

The plans build on an existing scheme, introduced last year, which aims to supports the timely diagnosis of patients with dementia. The existing scheme is worth £42m nationally and around 85% of GP practices take part annually in that scheme.

Once diagnosed, there are further incentives for GP practice, worth a further £31m nationally, linked to delivering high quality care for dementia patients.

Commenting on the plans, George McNamara, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Alzheimer's Society said:  “Given that only half of people living with dementia receive a diagnosis, any steps towards improving diagnosis is a good thing.”

But he cautioned: “A focus on enhanced payments is only part of the answer and alone will not suffice.”

He added: “GPs are motivated by caring for their patients, not ticking boxes. We know that some doctors are reluctant to give a diagnosis because they know the right help and support isn't available locally. It's absolutely vital that every person with dementia understands what is happening to them and has access to the help they need afterwards.”

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