Dementia patients ‘should be given a named GP’, study finds.

Dementia patients who see the same GP tend to be in better health and are 10% less likely to be admitted to hospital.

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“Dementia patients who are seen by a single-family doctor have better health and improved quality of life”, according to a study by Exeter University.

The new study examined the impact of so-called continuity of care among more than 9,000 dementia patients aged 65 and over in England in 2016.

“It’s clear from this study that consistently seeing the same GP has real benefits for people living with dementia – better management and treatment of conditions, and lower risk of complications like delirium and incontinence, leading to improved quality of life”.

What were the main findings of this survey?


  • Those who consistently see the same GP have lower rates of health complications and fewer emergency hospital visits, researchers found.
  • People with dementia who were consistently seen by the same GP over the course a year were given fewer medicines and were less likely to be given drugs that can cause problems like incontinence, drowsiness and falls.
  • These patients were also 35% less likely to experience delirium, a state of confusion commonly seen among dementia patients.
  • They were 58% less likely to experience incontinence.
  • The study also found that dementia patients with a named GP were 10% less likely to have an emergency hospital admission compared to patients who had multiple GPs caring for them.
  • UK authors said with no cure for dementia, patients need the best care possible.


But figures show a growing number of Britons are not getting to see their preferred GP, with a recent NHS survey showing only 45 percent of people did.


The health system is increasingly relying on locum doctors rather than permanent GPs and is also facing a combined shortage of doctors and burnout from those that are working due to the Covid pandemic

Lead author Dr João Delgado, of the University of Exeter, said: “The number of people with dementia has been rising steadily and it is now one of the leading causes of death in the UK”

“In the absence of a cure, long-term care is particularly important”.

“Treating people with dementia can be complex because it often occurs together with other common diseases”.

“Our research shows that seeing the same general practitioner consistently over time is associated with improved safe prescribing and improved health outcomes”.

Study co-author, Sir Denis Pereira Gray, a research GP at St Leonard’s Practice in Exeter, said: “These new findings show that GP continuity is associated with important benefits for patients.”

“Whilst national policymakers have for years discouraged continuity, general practices can still provide good GP continuity through their internal practice organisation, for example, by using personal lists.”


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