Dementia patients’ ‘postcode lottery’ of care

Dementia patients across England are receiving a “postcode lottery” of care, with health authority spending per patient varying 21-fold.

By , Medical Correspondent

7:00AM GMT 07 Mar 2012


Freedom of information requests to 134 primary care trusts (PCTs) have found the amount spent per dementia patient varies from £38 at NHS Nottinghamshire County to £802 at NHS Barnsley. The average for the 54 which provided information to GP magazine, which submitted the FOI requests, was £160. Four in 10 spent less than £100.

GPs said the low spend by many trusts was putting them off referring patients to experts capable of making a definitive diagnosis.

Most family doctors feel it is irresponsible to tell patients that they have dementia, and prefer to refer them to specialists who test their memory and other cognition skills.

However, provision of these ‘memory assessment services’ remains patchy.

Dr Ian Walton, a West Midlands GP with a special interest in mental health, told the magazine: “GPs are blamed for not picking up dementia. But they haven’t got support from services. It’s why GPs are not inclined to refer.”

Dr Helena McKeown, a GP in Salisbury, added: “Most GPs will want to rec­ognise symptoms and refer to a memory service. Very few GPs want to make a [formal] diagno­sis themselves – it’s bad to get it wrong.”

Louise Lakey, policy manager at the charity The Alzheimer’s Society, said: “For people with dementia, early diagnosis is the key to unlocking access to support services and potential treatments which can help them lead a fuller life.

“Local memory services play a crucial role in making this happen, so the postcode lottery must improve.”

One Response to Dementia patients’ ‘postcode lottery’ of care

  1. Norrms says:

    Once agin it just shows that lives are being destroyed bcause of Drs lack of confidence to diagnose and different levels of financial care being given,
    Norrms, diagnose with early onset Alzheimers four years ago aged 50 and loving life to the full !!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available