GPs have a ‘three strikes and you’re in’ policy on referral that is delaying people with dementia getting a diagnosis, the head of a leading charity has claimed.
Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes told a packed King’s Fund conference on dementia that it was a standard policy for GPs not to refer patients until they came back for the same thing at least three times ‘to manage budgets’.
Speaking at the Leading change in dementia diagnosis and support event, Mr Hughes claimed resources were being wasted in diagnosing dementia because GPs ‘have a three-strike and you’re in policy’ whereby ‘you have to go to the GP at least three times for the same thing before they will refer you’.
He went on to add that a ‘GP friend’ had told him ‘GPs are taught to do this, to manage the budget’.
Dr Hughes said this meant people with dementia were not being diagnosed in a timely way, with some having to go many more times before being referred for assessment.
He said: ‘We have people with dementia who had to go five or six, even eight or nine times to the GP, and were then referred to a memory clinic. We have to ask, is this a good use of resources?’
It comes the day after Pulse reported that experts were warning that soaring numbers of patients without dementia are being caught up in the PM’s diagnosis drive, with over half of those referred by GPs to memory clinics turning out to not have the disease.