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Margaret McCartney: Dementiagate—how politicised pay diverts GPs from working for patients

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 24 October 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6446

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By next year, 850,000 people in the UK will have dementia. We have long campaigned for all people with dementia to access a timely diagnosis and we will not standby when over 400,000 people living with dementia are left in the dark, to struggle in isolation because they do not have one. We have a long tradition of supporting GPs in neglected areas of care. To purely look at this issue through the lens of one announcement is over simplistic and very unhelpful, without considering the wider actions being taken by NHS England and others. Everyday people with dementia tell us about the heart ache and immense struggle that they had to endure to get a diagnosis; surely any measure aimed at reducing this should be looked at in this light, rather than merely voicing false accusations of conspiracy.

It is for the NHS and the Government to determine how doctors are paid for any of the work they do, and the Directed Enhanced Service payment related to dementia diagnosis is far from unique. The only interest Alzheimer’s Society has is that people affected by dementia get a timely diagnosis. We diagnose other diseases. Why not this one?

Competing interests: Co-Chair of the Prime Minister's Dementia Friendly Communities Champion Group and member of the Department of Health's Dementia Programme Board

31 October 2014
Jeremy Hughes
Chief Executive
Alzheimer's Society
Devon House, 58 St Katharine's Way, London E1W 1LB