Posted on October 08, 2013

Concern for lack of access to dementia care

It has been revealed that GPs are concerned that focusing on diagnosing dementia could leave those who have already been diagnosed without the right level of care and support. The direct enhanced service (DES) is aimed at improving the diagnosis of dementia; however, it does not take into consideration support services such as memory clinics.  As a result, dementia care is now lacking for some patients. Professor Alistair Burns, the government's 'dementia tsar', says that early diagnosis is essential in order for patients to have access to the right support and care and that early diagnosis also helps to bring down the number of patients admitted to hospital.  The DES was introduced by NHS England to 'case-find' dementia in those groups deemed to be most at risk. GP critics of this process have stated that this has created a target for diagnosis, which is not a pressure applied for other conditions.  The concern is that current dementia services such as memory clinics could be inundated with people who may not actually have the condition but are instead suffering from cognitive impairment, leaving fewer resources for those who genuinely need help. Funds are also being redirected away from dementia care services, as many practices are spending on the DES process instead. Other doctors are happy to continue with this system for early diagnosis, however, and state that most patients want to find out as early as possible if they have the condition, thereby enabling them to access all the support and care they need.
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