This new dementia enhanced service gives us a real opportunity. Not an opportunity to earn £55 x however many dementia diagnoses we can cram in between three weeks ago and the end of March next year. No. Something else entirely.
I genuinely can’t be bothered to list all the things that are wrong with this proposed new service. It’s all too depressing and you could come up with your own, I’m sure.
But if I did, they would include: the highly dubious ethics of the whole thing, the fact that it’s clearly politically/target driven, the reality that it currently takes six months plus from referral to reach a diagnosis, the glaring duplication of pay given there’s already a virtually identical DES, the way this will inevitably play out in the media and, last and very much least, the hilarious reality that, if the idea really is to reward GPs for a proactive approach to this disease, the suits should realise that the £55 on offer barely covers the time it took me to read the DES spec.
All of which is beside the point. We all know that, if money should be poured anywhere near dementia, then it should go into providing adequate memory clinic services and prompt and appropriate social support for patients and carers.
So there’s the opportunity. Why don’t we, en masse, boycott the whole thing and insist the politicians divert the money to where it’s really needed? In fact, why doesn’t the GPC man up and score a massive PR win by encouraging us to treat it with with the contempt it deserves? We dodge a media bullet, emerge with our ethics intact, and the Government’s bluff is called.
And for those who disagree, there’s a six-item cognitive impairment test with your name on it, though hopefully not in a GP’s surgery near you.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield.