GP role in coordinating dementia care questioned

Author: Adrian O'Dowd
GP role in coordinating dementia care questioned

Plans for GPs to lead on ensuring coordination and continuity of care for people with dementia have been questioned in an review of progress to improve care for people with the syndrome.


The government today published a report* on opinions gathered last year from stakeholders in the health and social care system and the charitable sector on the progress of actions set out in the Challenge on Dementia 2020 Implementation Plan from 2016.


In 2015, the Dementia 2020 Challenge was launched setting out how England would tackle dementia better and make the UK the most dementia friendly society in the world by 2020.


The subsequent 2016 Implementation Plan set out a series of targets, commitments and objectives for a range of organisations.


It committed to improve the quality of care for people with dementia, have 10% of people with a dementia diagnosis taking part in research, and a pilot scheme to extend discussions of dementia risk reduction to the NHS Health Check for people over 40.


Part of the plan was for GPs to play a leading role in ensuring coordination and continuity of care. In addition, GPs should support the development and implementation of personalised care plans.


The new report says that significant progress has been made.


The dementia diagnosis rate was above the target of 66.7%, there were now 2.78 million Dementia Friends and 412 communities had committed to becoming Dementia Friendly in England and Wales, while more than one million NHS staff had attended dementia awareness raising sessions.


People responding to the progress review welcomed the publication of the dementia treatment and care pathway in February 2017 and the Care Plan template for dementia, with its focus on quality of GP care plans.


However, they were not specific as to whether the commitment was “on track” and highlighted that there was “inconsistent quality of support” provided by GPs across the country, and that there was a lack of capacity for GPs to fulfil their role as leaders in co-ordinating care.


People commenting recommended there be further training and support for GPs to implement quality care plans, particularly in areas where diagnosis rates were low.


The report says: “Overall, there have been improvements, but respondents felt that GPs could take more ownership and more of a leading role in coordinating care.


“Therefore it would be appropriate to consider whether this commitment should be modified by looking at alternative ways to coordinate dementia care, for example, with other staff groups being more involved.”


The new report now recommends that the role of GPs in dementia care and coordination be reviewed and an assessment be carried out as to whether they or other staff groups are best placed to take this role through dialogue with key partners.


The report also recommends that more support from NHS England be given to CCGs which are not meeting the dementia diagnosis rate, looking at how uptake can be increased in order to improve diagnostic rate consistency.

*Department of Health and Social Care. Dementia 2020 Challenge: 2018 Review Phase 1 (February 2019).