Is a diagnosis worth £55?

Is a diagnosis worth £55?

It was announced today by NHS England that GP’s will be paid £55 for every time they diagnose a patient with Dementia.

Dementia is a decline in brain function and NHS England allocated £5 million to increase the number of sufferers who receive treatment for their condition. This was in response to the estimated 90,000 patients who are living with Dementia, however have yet to be diagnosed.

Startlingly, fewer than 800,000 people have actually been diagnosed with dementia, which is more of an umbrella term for any diseases that affect the brain.

There are a number of problems associated with this- affecting memory, mental agility, language skills and executing everyday tasks.

NHS England expects to diagnose two thirds of people with dementia by 2015 and believes that this will enable doctors to offer more tailored support for their patients.

It has caused a stir to say the least among medical professionals around the UK, so we hear what they have to say on what is being viewed as an incentivised medical practice.  

Timothy James, Senior Lecturer in Medical Law and Ethics at Birmingham City University said: “It raises a question: why are GPs not diagnosing dementia, and why do they need an incentive to do so?  The ethical point is surely that doctors should diagnose illness in order to benefit their patients, not themselves.” 

“So the follow-up question must be: do the government think that GPs are unable to diagnose dementia through inadequate diagnostic skills, or unwilling to diagnose it because it will cost them something – money out of their budgets, or an increased workload?  If it’s the former, training should be the answer; if the latter, ethics come in” added Timothy.

Timothy draws two conclusions from this announcement: “There are indeed question marks over the diagnostic skills of GPs, but the medical authorities will never admit this. We should now expect increases in diagnoses of dementia – experience shows these financial incentives are very effective in changing GPs’ practice.”

The Patients Association also disagrees with the new plan has calling it "a step too far".

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society said:

‘For no other disease would we tolerate only half the people getting a diagnosis. It is shocking that the Patients Association seems to be acting against the interests of some of our most vulnerable people. There is a long tradition of supporting GP practices to tackle neglected areas. People worried about their memory and their carers deserve that support.'     

Some people don’t know that GPs receive incentives for diagnosing cases such as high cholesterol, raised blood pressure and diabetes, but we must ask is this taking this process to the extreme? Could you argue that the good GPs are already diagnosing Dementia without the need for payment to do so- could this rewarding the poorer GPs perhaps? Let us know what you think.




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