Mr Hunt goes mad about the French

This week we had the unusual sight of an English Secretary of State for Health going over to France to get ideas about how to run our health services. It was all about dementia, and apparently the French are much better about diagnosing dementia than we are (perhaps because they have more neurologists).

However, the case for early diagnosis of dementia is not that secure, and certainly there are those who feel that screening for early dementia is unwarranted. Carol Brayne and colleagues set out the uncertainties (uncertain costs and uncertain benefits) in a recent BMJ article. This produced a vigorous set of responses, including one from Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director for Dementia who made it clear that while he thought it might be true that there’s no high quality evidence to support early diagnosis, he felt it would be “a shame if hundreds of thousands of people are denied access to the treatment and support ‎from which they could benefit”.

Mr Hunt may be pleased to have had a rather unusual photo-opportunity with his French counterpart. I for one would rather see the ‘evidence horse’ going before the ‘policy cart’.

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