Alzheimer’s Society responds to removal of the Dementia Enhanced Service (DES) from the GP contract

Alzheimer's Society respond to the February 2016 decision to remove the Dementia Enhanced Service from the GP contract.

NHS England, the Government, and the BMA/GPC have reached agreement on changes to the GP contract in England for 2016/17, to take effect from 1 April 2016. 

The changes include the removal of the Dementia Enhanced Service from the contract from 31 March 2016 and the £42 million resource will be transferred into a global sum. All other Enhanced Services will continue unchanged.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said:

“While it’s good news that GPs are more routinely identifying people with dementia, the job is clearly not done. Although the 66% diagnosis rate ambition set out in the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia has been reached, it only reflects a national average and still leaves more than a third of people undiagnosed. This is higher still in some areas of the country that are failing to the meet this target.

“The removal of the DES, which has been proven effective in starting to tackle unacceptably low diagnosis rates, could be seen very much as taking the foot off the gas on diagnosis.

“With more people living with dementia, it’s right that there should be a real push to improve access to high quality post-diagnosis support, care and treatment, but a timely diagnosis is absolutely crucial. This low level of diagnosis is not tolerated for other health conditions and we question why dementia is being singled out as the only enhanced service to be removed.

“For too long, people with dementia have been the poor relation within the NHS, with those with other diseases receiving far more support. Many people are living with dementia without a diagnosis at all, leaving them lost and confused while others still face unacceptable delays in getting a diagnosis. The £42m from the DES should now be invested in much needed post diagnostic support, treatment and care.”