Taken from the Daily Mail
What a waste! Even GPs blast £55 'bribe' to diagnose dementia: Three quarters of family doctors say bonus created anxiety and fear
- GPs paid £55 for dementia diagnoses from October 2014 to April 2015
- Poll found 76.1 per cent of family doctors thought policy was 'unhelpful'
- Some conceded policy caused 'conflict of interest' to give false diagnosis
The controversial bonus scheme that pays GPs £55 every time they diagnose a case of dementia has been of no benefit to patients, three-quarters of family doctors say.
Many believe it has only created unnecessary anxiety and fear, and has been a ‘waste of everyone’s time’, according to a poll of 724 GPs.
Some doctors also conceded that the payments were a ‘conflict of interest’ which encouraged
them to diagnose dementia incorrectly just to earn more.
The scheme was introduced by NHS officials last October to increase the detection rates for the illness, which have been persistently low.
At the time it was estimated that only 55 per cent of patients with the illness had ever been given a formal diagnosis and offered treatment and support.
with the money going into surgery funds for them to spend how they wished.
But a number of senior doctors and academics were so concerned that they wrote to the head of the
NHS, Simon Stevens, warning that it would have ‘truly tragic consequences’.
They were particularly worried that the scheme would lead to GPs wrongly diagnosing dementia, which is notoriously difficult to detect in the early stages and subject to opinion.
And only last month figures showed that the numbers of patients recorded as having the disease had risen by 25 per cent – raising further concerns of misdiagnosis.
Now the poll by GP Magazine reveals that just 14.5 per cent of doctors thought the scheme had been ‘helpful’. A total of 76.1 per cent said ‘no’, while 9.4 per cent were unsure.
One GP described it as a ‘cause of unnecessary anxiety for patients’ and ‘poorly thought through’. He also warned that the screening methods were ‘poorly sensitive’, raising the risk of wrong diagnosis.
Another doctor said: ‘This is likely to lead to overdiagnosis which in itself carries a risk for patients.’
One said the ‘money attached… incentivises GPs to make the diagnosis, a real conflict of interests’. Another said it was a ‘waste of everyone’s time’, while one doctor said ‘it has not improved care’.
There is no cure for dementia. An estimated 850,000 adults in Britain have the illness and officials now believe that two thirds have had a formal diagnosis. The scheme has now been dropped.
Dr Martin Brunet, a GP in Guildford, Surrey, who campaigned against the initiative, said the rise in diagnosed cases ‘raised questions’ about whether patients had been misdiagnosed.
NHS England insisted it was only ever planned to be a temporary measure. Professor Alistair Burns, of NHS England, said: ‘Awareness of dementia is at its highest and we believe timely diagnosis of dementia allows people to access the emotional, practical and financial support that brings.
‘We want it to be normal to talk about memory problems and to encourage people to come forward for an assessment if they or their families have concerns.’