GP confidence in dementia diagnosis on the increase

There has been a 'positive shift' in the attitude of GPs towards the diagnosis of dementia since 2007, a report by a watchdog has suggested.

Dr Helena McKeown: We need 'time to do our job more effectively'
Dr Helena McKeown: We need 'time to do our job more effectively'

The study by the National Audit Office highlights the progress made since a previous report it published in 2007, which suggested that GPs' attitudes could hamper early diagnosis of dementia.

The report says that, in 2009, 71 per cent of GPs surveyed said they were somewhat confident or very confident at diagnosing dementia, compared with 65 per cent in 2007.

However, the research also highlighted that a quarter of GPs disagree that they have received sufficient training to help them diagnose and manage the condition.

'Almost every health professional comes into contact with patients who have dementia, yet there is no required basic training in how to understand and support them,' the report says.

The report suggested that addressing the training gap will require concerted action over several years by a large number of training and education bodies, most of which are independent of the DoH and the NHS.

However, Dr Helena McKeown, chairman of the BMA's community care committee, said extra training may not be the solution.

'The answer is not "diplomatosis" or PCTs setting us more compulsory training for appraisals, but time to do our job more effectively.

'PCTs have been allocated money as part of the national dementia strategy and it should be spent in the community, freeing up GP teams and giving us adequate resources to care for the people whom we diagnose.'

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