Thursday, 23 October 2014


I’m indebted to my brother for bringing this to my attention, and also suggesting the punchline.

It seems that not enough cases of dementia are being diagnosed: only about fifty percent, apparently.  Now you might wonder how exactly they go about counting the undiagnosed cases – but that’s not the point right now.  The point is that the NHS has a solution.  For the next six months, GPs will be paid £55 for each new case they identify. 

That’ll get the stats up to where we want them.

Now I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that there are any unscrupulous doctors out there, but it does set a bit of a precedent, doesn’t it?  My brother nailed it when he visualised a cartoon (which would have been worthy of the late, irreplaceable David Austin*):

Patient to doctor:  “I have absolutely no memory of offering you £60 not to diagnose me with Alzheimer’s!”


* Austin did the pocket cartoon in the Guardian for many years, right up to his early death in 2005.  The paper wisely opted not to try to replace him.  He took no prisoners. Perhaps my favourite of the few I can remember was in about November 2002, during the lead-up to the Iraq War.  Several generals are in conference, looking worried.  One of them says:  “But – what if he really has got WMDs?”




  1. I have a friend whose mother clearly has Alzheimer's, but whose father won't take his wife to the doctor because she'd be upset to know the diagnosis. I have another friend whose wife's diagnosis was delayed by three years because the doctor refused to refer her for appraisal. Neither doctor deserves fifty-five quid. Mind you, I know how to fake an Alzheimer's exam, if they tested me, could I have the £55, I wonder, for a self-diagnosis?

  2. I was asked recently to participate in an Alzheimer's study that was pursuing the premise of a genetic marker for Alzheimer's plus the use of a low dose of a diabetic drug to control it. There were thousands in the sample, and the usual blinds and double blinds. When exactly 439 of the group were diagnosed with Alzheimer's, the study would terminate.
    I needed to find a partner who could shadow me and make separate reports on my cognition. I couldn't find anyone who had that much time, so I had to decline.
    But, 439 people. I ask you....

  3. Yes, Z, but then you'd have to make a miraculous recovery, and that doesn't happen (unless you name's Ernest Saunders).
    Joanne, transposing your experience across the pond: £55 x 439 = £24,145. Add on a bit for admin: obviously, the budget for the study was £25,000.