Editorial: Each PCO should have a GP lead on dementia

There was an air of optimism at the LMCs conference in London last week.

The expectation is that the new coalition government is realising that GPs are the answer to the difficulties that the NHS faces - and not the problem.

There is also a little satisfaction that the Con-Lib Dems are targeting the NHS's vast army of managers for cuts, as SHAs are preparing to be axed and even the future of PCTs is being thrown into doubt.

Surely it's a disgrace that the NHS's managerial ranks were still swelling while the rest of the UK was dealing with the realities of the recession?

This week, GP exclusively reveals that one in three PCTs has not completed a vital action plan detailing how they will achieve the goals of England's National Dementia Strategy (NDS).

Our investigation also found that half of 116 responding PCTs could not account for how they had spent their share of £60 million of NDS funding last year.

There are 570,000 people with dementia in England and our ageing population means that it is perhaps no surprise that by 2040 this figure is expected to double.

But how do you respond to a worsening problem that is not currently receiving the attention it merits?

In March, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia recommended that every PCT should appoint a clinical lead on dementia. Who better than a GP with an interest in dementia at the heart of a PCO to ensure that the condition receives both the attention and the funding it deserves?

One of the problems is that it is not appropriate to take the same approach to treatment and care for people with dementia as for older people generally.

This is why the Alzheimer's Society agrees that a GP as clinical lead within a PCT could be welcome.

Requiring each PCO to have a GP lead on dementia would also surely extend the honeymoon period health secretary Andrew Lansley is currently enjoying with the profession.

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