The controversial scheme that paid family doctors £55 for every dementia patient on their books, saw the numbers diagnosed rise by a quarter.
There are concerns that some patients may have been misdiagnosed with dementia
The scheme has now been dropped as apparently it was only meant as a temporary measure, however it means the Prime Minister has almost achieved his target to radically increase the number of people diagnosed with the condition.
The MailOnline report: The figures, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, show the number of patients with a record of dementia went up to 415,964 at the end of March this year.
The figures show a leap of 24 per cent – from 336,445 – since the end of September when the scheme came in.
The controversial incentive scheme has now been dropped, with NHS England insisting that it was only designed as a temporary measure.
But the move came just weeks after researchers at Sheffield University found the number of ‘inaccurate’ referrals by GPs to memory clinics had doubled, to more than 50 per cent.
GPs have come under pressure since 2013 to identify more people with dementia since the Prime Minister’s Challenge on dementia pledged to get two-thirds of the population thought to have the condition formally diagnosed by 2015.
NHS England has changed the way it calculates the numbers living with dementia from this month, says a report in the doctors’ newspaper Pulse.
The new estimate suggests 659,000 people are living with dementia in England.
According to NHS England, 63 per cent of people with dementia have been diagnosed – just shy of the Prime Minister’s target of getting 67 per cent of patients formally diagnosed by 2015.
The diagnosis drive encouraged GPs to screen certain high-risk groups of patients for the condition but the numbers increased dramatically after the introduction of a £55 payment for every additional patient on their list diagnosed with dementia.
This has led to a 24 per cent increase in diagnoses, with a colossal increase of 23,000 patients – a 6 per cent hike – in March alone, the final month of the incentive scheme.
NHS England says the scheme was a temporary measure to improve detection rates.
GP experts have questioned whether the Government should be insisting on pushing on more recorded cases, warning that it could lead to misdiagnoses.