Financial incentive for dementia diagnosis is bizarre

Posted on November 16th, by geoff in CT blog. 1 Comment

By Guest Blogger LEON SMITH

Executive vice president, Nightingale Hammerson

One cannot help but feel a sense of desperation in the latest NHS initiative regarding dementia diagnosis. It is evident that the poor or lack of dementia diagnosis by GPs has been a long standing and ever growing problem. Often we have heard tales of older people being patronised by their GPs and being told “this is all part of getting old. It happens to us all. It’s nothing to worry about”.

In many cases it certainly is something to worry about. In some ways dementia is comparable to diabetes in that there are still vast numbers of people who feel that they suffer from the symptoms of dementia who have never been diagnosed.

There can be no question that the whole issue of dementia is receiving more and more publicity and a barely a day goes by without us hearing of some potential new wonder cure or some tip on what to eat or what not to eat in order to fend off the possibility of developing dementia.

Whilst much still needs to be done on de-stigmatisation of this disease, this is only going to happen with more being put into general education on dementia, more being done to address the GP training issue and more money going into dementia research.

The idea of offering financial incentives to GPs is a bizarre one, not only because one would expect diagnosis in a primary setting to be part of a GP’s job but it could also lead to over diagnosis, as currently seems to be the case, for example with prostate cancer.

The last National Dementia Strategy was imperfect but at least it did bring together a number of different strands and focus attention on the growing need to be more proactive with the whole phenomena. Perhaps the time has come for further cross-party talks with a view to developing an updated National Dementia Strategy. No doubt this is something which the excellent All Party Parliamentary Committee on Dementia would be happy to feed into and support.

The committee has been involved in discussions regarding diagnosis and post-diagnosis support, the commissioning of dementia services and the dementia resource but far more needs to be done to build on the work of the initial dementia strategy commissioned by the previous government. Much work has also been done by a number of high profile personalities who are either living themselves with dementia and/or have had close relatives living with the illness.

The more high profile people who are prepared to “come out” with news of their own dementia or that of relatives will help create an atmosphere of increased understanding and acceptance. The dementia issue is not going to go away any time soon. All of these issues need to be dealt with as a matter of increasing urgency.

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

One response to “Financial incentive for dementia diagnosis is bizarre”

  1. In the absence of a wonder cure for dementia, we’re seeing more realistic programmes in different parts of the country. There are initiatives at local level to help support people with dementia, either in their own homes or in care homes, and to create more dementia-friendly communities. For example, in Torbay, the local Healthwatch has combined with people living with dementia to create the ‘Purple Angels’ scheme – a logo that shops and businesses can display to indicate dementia awareness. See, or email for more information. And in LB Brent, there is a whole Systems Leadership – Local Vision programme just starting that’s aiming to help create a dementia-friendly borough, working across the public realm as well as with the private, not-for-profit and voluntary sectors. I suspect that it’s this kind of practical support and awareness that’s going to make a difference to everyday lives and experiences of people with dementia.

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