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in which he explains his motivations for signing an open letter that called for the £55 per diagnosis scheme to be withdrawn.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’.