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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Report urges GPs to prioritise dementia

By Lilian Anekwe

An MP-led committee has warned that GPs are neglecting the growing number of people living with dementia ‘at their peril', and called for a ‘dementia tsar' to be appointed to raise the profile of the disease.

The Committee of Public Accounts, which is responsible for scrutinising how the Government spends its funds, has called on the Department of Health to give dementia the same priority and investment as cancer and coronary heart disease.

As the population ages the number of people diagnosed with dementia is expected to soar by 30% over the next 15 years.

Speaking as the Committee published a report on the prevalence and cost of dementia, Edward Leigh MP, the chair of the Committee, said:

‘Such is the fear of the condition, the belief among both public and professionals that little can be done to help sufferers, and the lack of knowledge of many GPs, that dementia is never formally diagnosed in up to two-thirds of cases.'

He added: ‘Dementia must be given the same priority as cancer and coronary heart disease and, like those conditions, be accorded a single leader within the Department of Health with the power to drive through improvements in diagnosis, treatment and care.'

The report highlights a negative attitude in general practice as one of the reasons for poor rates of early diagnoses.

The report states that: ‘Almost a quarter of GPs think dementia patients are a drain on resources with little positive outcome, an attitude which the Department acknowledges must change.'

Commenting on the report shadow Health Minister Stephen O'Brien said it ‘put the Government and Alan Johnson to shame'.

report House of Commons Public Accounts Committee Report

Improving services and support for people with dementia

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