Nine out of ten GPs think dementia patients are being failed by NHS and social services, a survey has revealed, with some GPs saying this acts as a deterrent to referring patients for formal diagnosis.
Over three quarters of GPs think that their patients are forced to rely on family, friends and other unpaid carers because appropriate local support services are lacking, an Alzheimer Society survey of 1,000 GPs showed.
Its report went on to suggest that more than a quarter of GPs admitted to being less likely to refer those with suspected dementia for diagnosis where local support services were lacking.
GPs warned that the situation is leaving patients with dementia – of which there are over 850,000 nationally – struggling with loneliness, anxiety and depression, while both patients and carers are ‘confused’ by the current health and social care system.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer Society said: ‘As dementia takes hold, people with dementia and their carers look to statutory services to give them the back-up they desperately need to cope. With the number of people with dementia expected to grow to one million by 2021, there is no time to waste.’
GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the results of the survey reflected GPs’ ‘frustration’ with cuts to social care services.
He said: ‘GPs are increasingly frustrated that due to excessive cuts to local authority funding, some of the most vulnerable people in our society are not receiving the level of care and support they deserve.’
GPs have seen a number of new schemes targeting increased dementia diganosis in recent years, including the still-running dementia DES and a one-off incentive scheme paying £55 per diagnosis but GP leaders have repeatedly warned the Government that commissioning sufficient support services should be its first priority.