Scotland may adopt GP Enterprise Award-winning scheme

A GP Enterprise Award-winning scheme to diagnose dementia earlier which enabled one practice to save £400,000 in secondary care costs last year may be rolled out by a health board in Scotland.

Dr Ian Greaves and practice manager Nicola Greaves
Dr Ian Greaves and practice manager Nicola Greaves

Dr Ian Greaves, of Gnosall Surgery in Staffordshire, is one of five category winners in this year’s GP Enterprise Awards, jointly organised by GP newspaper and the RCGP.

The practice team and representatives of the PCT that commissioned it (South Staffordshire) have received interest in it from both the Argyll and Bute area of Scotland and PCTs across England.

Gnosall Surgery developed a primary care memory service for its 8,000 patients that dramatically reduced hospital costs.

Two questions about memory were added to the checklist used on patients attending QOF clinics. Those with memory concerns were visited at home by a health visitor, to carry out checks for dementia and depression, and to arrange blood and urine tests.

A monthly clinic was organised at the surgery with a specialist old age psychiatrist, and the health visitor would attend with the patient and their carer.

The specialist was given access to the data collected and the patient’s medical records, so he could make a diagnosis and create a care plan.

GPs on average were detecting 40% of dementia cases and referring them to secondary care. Now about a third of the patients visited are diagnosed with dementia. Other diagnoses include depression, B12 deficiencies, alcohol or medicines abuse and brain tumours.

Now the practice is helping the PCT roll out the service with memory clinics in practices served by six dementia facilitators collecting data.

The scheme has also won the backing of the Alzheimer’s Society. A spokesman said: ‘In a survey commissioned this week for Dementia Awareness Week, the Alzheimer’s Society found a third of people wouldn’t know where to turn for advice after a dementia diagnosis. It is therefore vital we support services like those provided by Gnosall Surgery to ensure people do have information and support available throughout their dementia journey.

‘Earlier this week, care services minister Paul Burstow  singled out memory clinics as something he wants to see rolled out across the country. They are also a key priority in the National Dementia Strategy for England. Sharing examples of best practice is an important and cost effective way of improving dementia services. Having Gnosall Surgery shortlisted for a GP Enterprise Award is helping do just that. We wish the surgery luck in the public vote.’

Editor's blog: Better care costing millions less: why can't all NHS dementia services work this way?

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