Exclusive: Dementia diagnoses on rise after controversial DES introduced

Tens of thousands more patients have been diagnosed with dementia following the introduction of a controversial GP incentive scheme to increase diagnosis rates, official data show.

Dementia: diagnosis rates up after incentive scheme (Photo: JH Lancy)
Dementia: diagnosis rates up after incentive scheme (Photo: JH Lancy)

Since the Dementia Identification Scheme enhanced service was launched in October 2014, dementia diagnosis rates have been steadily increasing, analysis by GP has found.

The total number of patients on QOF dementia registers in England was 371,244 at the end of January, compared with 336,445 in September 2014.

Rising dementia diagnosis rate

The recorded prevalence of dementia had remained static at around 0.64% from April to September 2014, but has been on the rise since, with around 0.7% of all patients now diagnosed with the condition.

The figures are taken from statistics released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) ‘in support of the dementia strategy and the dementia challenge’, which aims to boost dementia diagnosis rates to 67% by March 2015. HSCIC has not published data on estimated prevalence of dementia.

Controversial scheme

Following its launch, the enhanced service was criticised for being ‘politically driven’ rather than benefiting patients, with GP experts saying NHS England should focus on providing support for patients who had already received a diagnosis.

Practices were urged to consider boycotting the scheme by the GPC, and dozens of GPs signed an open letter saying the DES should be withdrawn.

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