GP-led dementia service wins £80,000 NHS award

A GP-led dementia service that slashed diagnosis waiting times and boosted detection rates has won an £80,000 NHS innovation prize.

Staffordshire GP Dr Ian Greaves (fourth from right), who led development of the Memory First scheme, receives the NHS award with members of the team (Photo: Chloe Lynton)

The Memory First initiative in Staffordshire cut waiting times from two-and-a-half years to just four weeks by bring consultant-led care into the community and allowing patients to manage their care plan on a smartphone.

The scheme has cut waiting times for diagnosis and detection rates have soared from 30% to 100% of anticipated local cases.

It has helped more patients stay independent in their own homes, and saved the NHS around £500,000 per year across a population of 280,000 patients.

A consortium of 162 GPs at 41 practices scooped the NHS Innovation Challenge Prize for Dementia, run in collaboration with Janssen Healthcare Innovation, at the annual NHS Innovation Awards, beating a host of other entries to the top prize.

The service integrates dementia care by putting consultant-led clinics in the community and pulling together end-of-life care and social care services.

Patients are treated in the community with support from secondary care when needed. Care plans designed around the patient can be monitored using smartphone apps.

In addition, ‘eldercare facilitators’ work with patients to coordinate access to services.

Development of the service was led by local GP Dr Ian Greaves, whose practice also won the GP Enterprise Award for innovative clinical care in 2010.

Dr Greaves said: ‘With an aging population the old models of dementia care are not sustainable. A tsunami of frail elderly is threatening to engulf and bankrupt the NHS. Carrying on in the same way is simply not an option.

‘Keeping the patient under the responsibility of the GP, supported by secondary care expertise, when needed, is a paradigm shift.’

Professor Alistair Burns, national clinical director for dementia, NHS England, said: ‘All of our finalists demonstrate innovative ways of providing integrated dementia care that improves things for patients and uses resources efficiently.

‘Most encouragingly they are sustainable models for dementia care with the potential to spread more widely across the NHS, making a difference to the lives of thousands more people and helping us tackle one of the major health issues we face today.’

Runners up in the competition were the Greenwich Advanced Dementia Service (GADS), which focused on supporting carers to help people with dementia remain in their own homes for longer, and the Early Intervention Dementia Service (EIDS) in Worcestershire, which ensures people with dementia get a more timely diagnosis when they are better prepared to deal with it. Each received a prize of £35,000.

Enter the GP Enterprise Awards 2014 for your chance to win a share of £10,000 in prizes.

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