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Expert urges GPs to take up dementia DES

GPs should embrace the new DES on dementia screening, says one CCG leader who believes the opportunity to diagnose patients earlier will vastly improve outcomes for both patients and their carers.

Speaking at Pulse Live, chief officer of Solihull CCG, Dr Patrick Brooke said patients and their carers want to know their diagnosis and that treatment does work for many patients.

‘I know there’s a lot of controversy about dementia screening in the papers and medical press – but it’s critical to get it right at the beginning,’ he said.

Dr Brooke said giving access to treatment early is crucial for those who can benefit, significantly delaying the need for institutional care.

And he advised that GPs should ensure they take into account carers’ perceptions when assessing patients, as apathy and a change in personality are key signs that they pick up on, whereas ‘people are actually very good at getting round some of the cognitive problems in early dementia, by writing things down and keeping reminders’.

To fulfil the DES requirement for formal assessment, Dr Brooke recommended practices used the 6CIT or GPCog questionnaires.

Dr Brooke says he expects there are around 375,000 patients in England with undiagnosed dementia that GPs can find through the new DES – around 15 patients for every 2,000 patients list practice. He said identifying and screening patients should be relatively easy because they are principally patients on GPs’ chronic disease lists and can be referred on for more complex assessment – and will be worth between £10 and £20 per patient.

‘How GPs should think of it is this is cerebral end organ damage – this is no different to screening diabetics for their feet, or checking blood pressure or checking cholesterol levels,’ Dr Brooke said.