Exclusive: Dementia flagged as priority but services are cut by PCTs

GP survey reveals widespread cuts to dementia services

One in four PCTs has closed or reduced dementia services in the past three years, and less than half have early detection services in place, GP can reveal.

This comes despite the maj­ority of PCTs – 98 per cent – stating that dementia care is one of their main priorities.

The findings were revealed after GP obtained data from 57 PCTs across England under the Freedom of Information Act.

They coincide with a WHO report on mental health, published earlier this month, which found that dementia care in England is in the bottom third of a European league table.

GPs have previously warned that they sometimes have little choice but to risk being struck off for prescribing antipsychotics to dementia patients because of a lack of specialist units for referral (GPs face sanctions on prescribing, GP, 27 June).

Dr Chris Manning, a member of the RCGP mental health group and founder of charity Primary Care Mental Health and Education (PRIMHE), said: ‘We should be increasing services to cope with the increasing burden of dementia, not cutting them.

‘PCTs are cutting dementia services because they would not dare cut services in other areas such as cancer.’

Dr Manning said that dementia suffers have the double stigma of being old and having a mental health problem. It is appalling that we treat our elders so badly, he added.

Clive Evers, director of information and education at the Alzheimer’s Society, described the findings as ‘extremely distressing’.

‘It is very worrying that 41 per cent of PCTs had no services for early detection. Early detection is vital – the sooner you identify dementia the sooner you can plan for the future.’

Lumping dementia patients into older people’s services is unacceptable, he added.

‘Dementia sufferers will lose out because they have specific needs and require regular support that will not be met,’ he explained.

Dr Ian Walton, a GP in the West Midlands and chairman of PRIMHE, added: ‘Dementia care is in a pretty sorry state
and few services are properly integrated.’

But Sube Banerjee, professor of mental health and ageing at King’s College London and DoH lead on the national dementia strategy, said that it was not surprising to see a variation in terms of service provision over the past few years.

‘One of the things that the strategy is trying to do is create a level playing field for dementia care,’ said Professor Banerjee. ‘The whole strategy is there to benefit primary care.’

The DoH is expected to launch the first ever national dementia strategy in mid-November.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

Comment below and tell us what you think

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Summary of changes to the GP contract 2021/22

Summary of changes to the GP contract 2021/22

The BMA and NHS England have agreed minor changes to the GP contract for 2021/22....

Minor changes agreed to GP contract for 2021/22 amid ongoing pandemic pressure

Minor changes agreed to GP contract for 2021/22 amid ongoing pandemic pressure

Changes to the GP contract for 2021/22 will be 'minimal' under a deal struck between...

What's coming up at the RCGP 2021 online conference - Dr David R Williams confirmed

What's coming up at the RCGP 2021 online conference - Dr David R Williams confirmed

The RCGP two-day virtual event takes place next month with keynote speaker Dr David...

GPs back BMA to lead talks on future of primary care networks

GPs back BMA to lead talks on future of primary care networks

GPs have voted for the BMA to continue to represent the profession in talks with...

COVID-19 vaccine deliveries paused in some areas to tackle 'geographical inequality'

COVID-19 vaccine deliveries paused in some areas to tackle 'geographical inequality'

Some GP-led vaccination sites will miss out on COVID-19 vaccine deliveries next week...

BMA hits out over inadequate PPE in high-risk primary care settings

BMA hits out over inadequate PPE in high-risk primary care settings

BMA leaders have called for a review of PPE and condemned the current 'one-size-fits-all'...