GPs to check millions for dementia, DES plans show

GPs must offer dementia checks to millions of patients with conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes to win back lost QOF money, the NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) has revealed.

The new dementia DES will encourage opportunistic testing during routine consultations
The new dementia DES will encourage opportunistic testing during routine consultations

The board has revealed the first in-depth details of new directed enhanced services (DESs) for the GP contract in 2013/14.

Practices will have until 30 June to sign up to the new DESs, which could earn the average practice up to £15,500, according to the NHSCB.

GPs will be paid to identify patients at risk of dementia and make an 'opportunistic offer' to assess them during a routine consultation.

The average practice will receive £2,587 upfront to prepare for the service. Practices will then share £21m depending on the number of assessments they complete.

The list of at-risk patients includes all patients over 60 with cardiovascular disease or diabetes, as well as patients with learning difficulties or neurological conditions.

The NHSCB estimates there are as many as 2.4m patients in these at-risk groups and expects around half to be given dementia checks.

GPs should then refer patients to memory clinics when dementia is suspected and offer treatment for memory loss. They will also need to offer health checks to carers of people with dementia.

The NHSCB said the services would improve support and treatment of patients with dementia and their carers to improve their quality of life.

The GPC had raised a 'fundamental objection' to the four new DESs being introduced into the GP contract in 2013/14. It said it opposed the principle of new DESs 'without any new funding'.

The NHSCB has now set out full details of the new DESs, which are are being funded with money from the QOF organisational domain that will be scrapped from April.

For the risk profiling DES, practice will receive £0.74 per registered patient - worth £5,175 to the average practice.

The remote care monitoring DES will earn practices £0.21 per patient, worth £1,478 to the average practice. The average practices in the online access DES will get £2,955.

In total, it suggests the average practice could earn £15,562 from these services.

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