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GPs begin campaign against dementia screening DES



GPs have begun a petition to urge the Government to think again about its plans to rollout dementia screening in primary care.

The petition warns screening could lead to unnecessary distress for patients, potentially causing anxiety and depression, while there is no known cure for the disease.

The Department of Health proposes to launch a new DES for practices to assess all at-risk patients for signs of dementia, funded by the removal of QOF points from the organisational domain.

But a group of over a dozen GPs and some other health professionals are urging the Government not to go ahead with plans through an online petition that has garnered nearly 200 signatures in only two days.

Dr John Cosgrove, a GP in Birmingham, said the plans could harm patients more than it will help them.

He told Pulse: ‘We would certainly want people to be diagnosed when it is right for them, which is probably when they present symptoms, but we have issues with screening the asymptomatic.

‘In particular there is no effective treatment to alter the progress of the disease and there is no consideration given to the potential harm of the screening programme.

‘To foist a test on people without their informed consent is wrong.’

Under the draft terms of a DES worth £3,600 per practice, GPs will have to assess all patients over 75 and those aged over 60 years with risk factors such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, learning disabilities or long term neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease.