Research by the think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) indicates that about one third of GPs are unable to diagnose dementia or to provide sufficient help for sufferers.
Editor’s Note: Are GPs aware of the free online training available?
Officially, the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley wants the NHS to reform so that it is better able to cope with the growing numbers of sufferers from dementia. Offering suitable support to keep people out of hospital should actually save money.
The ippr report, produced with the City of London Corporation, identifies particularly poor care for the over-80s and a lack of services for those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.
The ippr calls for stronger links between health and social care, as a means to offer people with dementia better care. It recommends the local authorities should retain a role in monitoring the care that is provided. Both GPs and social care commissioners should be held truly accountable under the new commissioning framework.
Liberal Democrat Health Minister Paul Burstow has commented that dementia is one of this government’s priorities:
“We are working hard to increase awareness of dementia through a new public awareness campaign. We are also developing a commissioning pack that will help health professionals, including GPs, to improve the quality of services for people with dementia”.
The National Audit Office (NAO), writing in early 2010, highlighted how dementia services in England are not getting the priority they were promised. The Department of Health has been challenged to demonstrate that the acclaimed National Dementia Strategy, published in 2009, is more than just words. The strategy is expected to cost nearly £2bn over 10 years, funded largely through efficiency savings, but the NAO predicts the eventual cost might be higher.
The Department of Health is undertaking an audit of dementia services, which should be available by Spring 2012.
London doctor survey warning over NHS dementia demand. London: BBC Health News, March 15th 2011.
Sachrajda, A. (2011). Dementia care in London. London: The Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr), March 15th 2011.
Brimelow, A. (2010). Dementia not getting priority – National Audit Office. BBC Health News, January 14th 2010.
National Audit Office (2010). Improving dementia services in England: an interim report. London: The National Audit Office (NAO), 2010.