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GP leaders welcome U-turn on dementia payments

BMA calls for proper investment in dementia as NHS England drops controversial scheme

Louise Prime

Thursday, 27 November 2014

GP leaders have welcomed the decision by NHS England to make a U-turn on its controversial dementia diagnosis incentive payments scheme, which is now going to be phased out. They are calling instead for there now to be proper investment in dementia diagnosis, management and support services.

When the “unethical” scheme to offer GPs £55 per new diagnosis of dementia among patients on their list was first announced last month, the BMA said the proposal had the potential to undermine the doctor-patient relationship, and that it was far more important for the NHS to invest in addressing the real needs of people with dementia, and their carers – rather than offering a financial incentive in an attempt to chase Government targets.

At that time, Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the BMA’s GP committee, advised practices to “think very carefully whether they should engage with this scheme”; and the deadline for signing up to the scheme was extended by a week.

But NHS England’s chief executive Sir Simon Stevens told Pulse yesterday that it had decided to scrap the incentive scheme from next April – though he didn’t admit to regretting its introduction.

Dr Vautrey responded: “It is good to see that NHS England have finally listened to GPs and the BMA who have raised concerns about the Government directly linking payments to specific targets.

“Decisions about an individual’s care should always be based on clinical need, not financial imperatives, and while the diagnosis of dementia is important it should not be done in a way that could seriously undermines the doctor/patient relationship.”

He went on to call for proper investment in services to help those affected by dementia. He said: “Rather than wasting money on short-term, pre-election targets, it would be far more beneficial to invest properly in GP services so that GPs can provide holistic care or to provide proper resource to meet the real needs that patients and their carers tell us are crucial, including timely appointments at memory clinics and real support in the community.”

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