Faster dementia treatment proposed in new QOF

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elderly_couple Targets for speeding up access to treatment for dementia patients are among the new QOF indicators proposed for 2014–15.

NICE has proposed ten new indicators of GP performance, four of which relate to mental and neurological health, with a focus on unmet need in dementia care.

GPs would be targeted on rapid referral of people with suspected dementia to a memory assessment service, and on obtaining contact details for a named carer.

These measures are designed to improve access both to clinical treatment and to community-based care for people with dementia.

Chris Quince, Senior Policy Officer for the Alzheimer’s Society, commented: “Memory services are really important for getting people formally diagnosed and understanding exactly what type of dementia they have. That can enable appropriate treatment. It can also help people access advice and support and other services that can enable them to manage their condition.”

There is major variation across the UK in access to memory services, he noted, with people in some locations waiting nine months for assessment.

In addition, he said, better liaison between carers and doctors is needed: “When carers aren’t being supported, often you end up with people with dementia going into hospital unnecessarily or being admitted into long-term care when they could be supported in the community.”

Chaand Nagpaul, Chairman of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee, warned: “Having indicators in the QOF does not, in itself, address the fact that there is a huge disparity and inequity in the access to memory testing services and dementia services. What we need is national standards of access and service provision.”

The QOF proposals will be considered by NHS Employers and the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee before the new indicators are published.