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‘Dementia-friendly’ GP practice will phone to remind patients of appointments

A GP practice declaring itself as ‘dementia friendly’ has committed to phone to remind patients on the day of their appointments.

Dr Nicola Decker, a GP partner at the Overton Surgery in Basingstoke and dementia lead at NHS North Hampshire CCG, is leading the project which will also see dementia patients offered double appointments to fully explain medical concerns.

According to the Dementia Action Alliance, of which the surgery is a member, the practice now puts a note on the records of any patient identified as suffering from dementia so that they can be offered special support when phoning or visiting the surgery.

Aside from reminding patients of appointments, the practice has invited all patients with dementia to identify their main carer, so that they can offer them carer support and discuss plans for emergency care.

The carer also gets notified of relevant information relating to the patient where appropriate, for example dates and times of hospital appointments the patient has been referred to by the GPs. In addition, patients diagnosed with dementia are also offered regular health checks and annual flu vaccine.

The project was part-funded by the Wessex Academic Health Science Network, which said the modifications could now be rolled out across Wessex supported by Dr Decker.

Dr Decker said: ‘This was a team effort to provide compassionate care for our patients with dementia and although not proven I believe it is the right thing to do. The feedback from patients is already very positive.’

Katherine Barber, senior project manager for Wessex ASHN, told the Basingstoke Gazette: ‘Dr Decker went through all the records and made sure it was properly recorded all the people with dementia. So if someone opens them they can see that person has dementia and give them double length appointments so they have time to express their issues.’

‘They will also ring them up on the morning of their appointment to remind them they have an appointment that day.’

The topic of dementia screening has been hotly debated among GPs since the Government introduced its dementia case-funding DES in April 2013. A Pulse survey revealed in December that GPs across England are facing complaints or objections from patients who ‘resent being asked’ about symptoms of dementia.