A new report suggests that dementia sufferers are being forced to pay millions collectively on an annual basis for treatment that should be offered free of charge.
The Alzheimer’s Society and Care England believe that patients are being unduly charged for services, and that the situation is disastrous considering the importance and debilitating nature of dementia as a condition.
Care home residents suffering from dementia are being forced to pay for their care as a result of increases in care home fees to cover the unnecessary costs, according to the influential report.
Indeed, the authors of the report conclude that patients are being treated as little more than second-class citizens.
Care homes currently being charged for GP services are paying in excess of £12,000 annually, with some figures in excess of £35,000 being reported by certain homes within the UK, the Fix Dementia Care report found.
“A new Alzheimer’s Society investigation has found that the NHS is treating many of the 280,000 people with dementia who live in care homes like second-class citizens. People are receiving a second-rate service and, to add insult to injury, are paying for the privilege,” the report outlined.
It is believed by the Alzheimer’s society that if 20% of the care homes in England are being unnecessarily charged the average fee, then the total cost of GP charges will be in excess of £26 million annually.
The charity is calling on the Government to end this unfair practice and ensure that GP practices do not charge for delivering a standard primary care service.
The report has been based on a survey of 300 care homes across the UK, with information provided by people affected by dementia.
It also asserts that the NHS is fundamentally failing to provide adequate, timely access to vital services.
The authors of the report conclude that those suffering with dementia are being neglected, and that the NHS policy addressing these individuals must improve and evolve rapidly.
“People with dementia are being failed by an NHS that is not person-centred enough. We have found that vital NHS services, such as continence supplies and assessments, are being provided inconsistently and when it is convenient for the NHS, not when it is needed by people with dementia. Paying for services that should be free on the NHS is unfair on cash-strapped people with dementia, care homes and local authorities.”
Commenting on the report, Davina Ludlow, director of the CareHome.co.uk website, insisted that the existing situation is completely unacceptable, and called on the government and authorities to address the situation immediately.
“It is tragic to see that due to this division between health and social care, residents living in care homes are being charged for GP visits. Why should care home residents be treated like lower class citizens and have to wait longer for access to physiotherapy, mental health services and continence products than other people in the UK?”
An NHS spokesman defended the health service’s care home policy.
“The NHS has dramatically increased the number of people with dementia who are able to be diagnosed in order to receive early support. Care homes have first line responsibility for looking after their residents, with appropriate back-up from the local NHS, of the sort now being developed in the new vanguard programme.”