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GPs should be sued for ‘late’ dementia diagnoses, says professor

A leading academic has called for patients to sue GPs for failing to diagnose dementia, arguing that ‘the sooner someone sues a GP… the better’.

Professor June Andrews, director of the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling, made the comments in the Letters section of the London Review of Books, in which she said the ‘sooner someone sues a GP for failure to diagnose as early as possible, the better’.

Sha also dismissed GP critics’ concerns about the £55 ‘cash for diagnosis’ scheme introduced by NHS England last October in a bid to boost dementia diagnosis rates.

Professor Andrews was responding to an article from GP Dr Gavin Francis, in which he explains his motivations for signing an open letter that called for the £55 per diagnosis scheme to be withdrawn.

In her response, Professor Andrews wrote: ‘Gavin Francis supports GPs who don’t diagnose dementia because they think there’s no point. It is outrageous that publicly funded professionals could withhold important information about my health.

‘It’s all very well being professionally insulted by the Government’s offer of £50. The sooner someone sues a GP for failure to diagnose as early as possible, the better.’

Professor Andrews said that ‘significant financial and emotional damage and unnecessary disability can be avoided’ from early diagnosis, but pointed out wild variations in diagnosis rates, from 20% in London to 75% in Belfast.

She added: ‘Francis says “presumably” the Government thought low diagnosis was evidence of poor care. If anything, it is evidence of no care at all. But that will be for the lawyers to prove.’

Professor Andrews is described on the University of Stirling website as ‘a recognised leader in the world wide movement to improve services for people with dementia and their carers’ who has won international awards and previously set up and directed the Centre for Change and Innovation in the Scottish Executive Health Department.

According to the website entry, the Dementia Services Development Centre she now directs was set up to ‘devise and implement interventions to drive change in clinician behaviour and health and social care organisations in order to achieve the ambitions of national dementia strategies in the UK and beyond’.

Readers' comments (94)

  • Suing GPs for so called 'late diagnosis' is actually pretty offensive and grossly unethical. What does this academic thing we are doing all day exactly? Clearly she has no idea of the pressures that we are under or that primary care as we know it is about to collapse.

    As for the assumption that 'significant financial and emotional damage and unnecessary disability can be avoided' there is not a shred of evidence to support this. GPs are caring for people, not diseases.
    ' the Government thought low diagnosis was evidence of poor care. If anything, it is evidence of no care at all' is also a blatant lie. We look at people holistically taking into account their overall needs. This statement is bordering on trolling, the professor would do well to reflect on this.

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  • 3 points-
    The clue is in the word academic
    Which drug company is sponsoring her then?
    I thought the latest complaint was that we were over-referring patients who had momentarily mislaid their car keys- the Lost-Car-Key Syndrome

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  • Vinci Ho

    So according to her philosophy,I suppose 2 weeks rule referral for dementia will be 'perfect' because like cancer referral , you can then name and shame GPs. Wow!

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  • Give her 50 consultations a day, under 10mins each and see how many dementia cases she misses....

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  • Hardly a 'leading academic', the university website lists seven (yes seven) publications three of which are book reviews and two are pieces in N'using Standard'.
    her bio is hardly modest, but she saves the best line to last..
    About:
    I am the Director of the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) in the School of Applied Social Science at the University of Stirling. The DSDC has offices in Belfast and London in addition to the Scottish campus. I am a recognised leader in the world wide movement to improve services for people with dementia and their carers. I have been recognised with the Founders Award of the British American Project of which I am a Fellow, and was awarded the Robert Tiffany Award by the Nursing Standard for my international work. I have considerable experience in management of change in health services, having set up and directed for three years the Centre for Change and Innovation, in the Scottish Executive Health Department. The purpose of the DSDC is to devise and implement interventions to drive change in clinician behaviour and health and social care organisations in order to achieve the ambitions of national dementia strategies in the UK and beyond. In my current role I am applying those skills across sectors in the care of people with dementia, including the health, social services, private and voluntary bodies who provide care. I am a former trade union leader, NHS manager and senior civil servant.

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  • Nice from the academic bubble, all supported by staff and mice and very little real life responsibility.
    She has forgotten there is no diagnosis...I'd like you to quantity 'late' professor. I will just tell every child you could get dementia early doors and give them a leaflet.Do not hide behind your title or lose touch with reality.

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  • Professor Andrews is a nurse, she has no medical school qualifications. She has never actually made or had to make a single diagnosis herself. Enough said.

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  • So then we make an early diagnosis - and then we can cure dementia ,right ? . Er - no.

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  • why just sue - why not call for a custodial sentence - i'm sure the legal system will oblige and don't forget being struck off - again the GMC will oblige.

    the result -> defensive practice i.e. anyone with a hint of a memory problem will be referred. The fall back will be that NHSE will complain about the cost and we will be monitored on dementia referrals and it will be published by the CQC. Will we care? no - we will have left by then.

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