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A 10% jump in recorded dementia since introduction of ‘cash for diagnosis’ scheme

The total number of patients on GP lists with a diagnosis of dementia has jumped by 10.3% since the temporary £55-per-diagnosis incentive scheme was rolled out to GP practices in September last year.

Statistics published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) today, focused on the period between April 2014 and January 2015, showed that the total number of dementia diagnoses rose by 12% during the period as a whole – from 331,824 to 371,244. However, the vast majority of these diagnoses were made since September.

The total number rose by 39,420, but 34,799 diagnoses were made since September and just 4,621 between April and September.

The proportion of patients with a dementia diagnosis on GPs lists also edged up from April 2014 to January 2015 – from 0.643% to 0.703%.

The figures come in the wake of the enhanced service which pays GP practices £55 per patient for each additional dementia diagnosis they make from the end of September 2014 until the end of March 2015. The scheme attracted critique from GP leaders who called it an ‘ethical travesty’ and described the incentive as ‘cash for diagnoses’.

But if the impact on diagnosis rates are a direct result of the scheme, this marks a contrast to the dementia case-finding DES that came with the 2013/14 GP contract, which had little impact on total numbers.

Overall, NHS England has a goal of increasing the dementia diagnosis rate to 67% by March 2015. If this is achieved two-thirds of the estimated number of people with dementia would receive a formal diagnosis and access to appropriate post-diagnosis support.