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NHS England extends deadline for 'cash for diagnosis' dementia scheme

NHS England has given GPs another week to sign-up to the £55 ‘cash for diagnosis’ dementia scheme, Pulse can reveal.

The commissioner told Pulse the extension to 28 November was in response to requests from GPs and area teams and would give practices extra time ‘to evaluate their registers’, and ‘develop their plans’ to deliver the enhanced service.

Pulse recently revealed that more than 40% of GPs had signed up for the the Dementia Identification Scheme, or intended to do so before the original deadline of 17 November.

The scheme, which will pay practices £55 for each additional dementia diagnosis if they show a net increase on the practice register from October to the end of March 2015, is an attempt by the Government to hit targets on dementia diagnoses rates in 2015 but has been widley condemned by GPs for being unethical.

A Pulse survey found 66% of GPs thought the scheme was unethical but many felt they couldn’t afford to turn down the scheme – and said it would not change their practise.

An NHS England spokesperson told Pulse: ‘In response to requests from a number of GP practices and area teams, we have extended the sign-up date to 28 November 2014.

‘GP practices are currently utilising the recommended toolkits to develop their achievement plans. This extension gives practices more time to evaluate their registers, and develop their plans to deliver the enhanced service and agree them with their area team.’

Readers' comments (2)

  • NHS Scotland had a financially incentivised approach to the "early diagnosis" of dementia. This was HEAT Target 4. The target was reached and the Scottish Government were triumphant about this presenting the achievement to Westminster in 2012 (All Party Parliamentary Group)

    NHS Board in Scotland took robust measures to reach the target and thus gain the financial reward. Practice became skewed in many ways to reach the target.

    This target was set by the Scottish Government. The most Senior Official for Mental Health in the Government (Mr Geoff Huggins) stated that the Government had been careful "to take out saboteurs" and that any disagreement by doctors or managers would be dealt with "behind the bike shed".

    Wind on nearly 4 years and it is emerging that elderly patients were mis-diagnosed with "early dementia" as a result of this target. In fact they have static age-related memory loss and not dementia.

    Scotland stands as evidence emerges of the harmful effects of an incentivised target based on "early diagnosis". It is no light matter to make a wrong diagnosis. Ask those mis-diagnosed.

    I personally campaigned across the United Kingdomfor an approach based on a TIMELY approach to diagnosis. This approach was completely rejected by the Scottish Government throughout my "engagement" with them. But CURIOUSLY the Scottish Government are now taking credit for a timely approach to diagnosis. This is quite sickening as Scotland could have offered an important lesson had the Scottish Government been open, honest and shown probity.

    I agree with all those who say that chasing a crude uncertain population target, a target that is politically motivated and has been promoted RELENTLESSLY by the Alzheimer's Society is UNETHICAL.

    This approach risks generating a huge amount of fear. It also risks medicalising too much of ageing such that those living with dementia are further disadvantaged as services get ever more stretched.

    Above all a TARGET like this, an I realise that NHS England call it an “ambition”, ignores complexity and the parabolic distribution of cognition over our life course. Our elder generation deserve far far better.

    Dr Peter J. Gordon
    Psychiatrist for Older Adults
    NHS Scotland

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  • My personal feeling is that the NHS is moving in a right direction by paying performance related pay in cases of dementia. There should also be some payment for screening patients as cost per case screened for dementia.
    I wonder if the scheme is extended for all surgery consultations, as cost per GP consultation. This will solve the problem of GP appointments, as practices will employ more GPs to address any increase number of consultations leading to reduced referral to A&E and Walking centres.

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