Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has described wide variations in dementia diagnosis in the UK as ‘unacceptable’.
New figures from the Alzheimer’s Society show diagnosis rates in Britain ranging from 31.6 per cent in East Riding of Yorkshire to 75.5 per cent in Belfast.
The figures also show a 3 per cent increase in the number of people in the UK that have been diagnosed with dementia, raising the number of people with a formal diagnosis to 46 per cent.
However, there are thought to be another 428,000 in the UK (54 per cent people) who are living with the condition but who are not diagnosed.
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health said:
“The small improvement in dementia diagnosis is good news, but the extreme variation across the country is unacceptable. It’s time for the worst performing areas to wake up to the dementia time bomb. While many areas do excellent work, the worst is diagnosing just a third of people with dementia – delaying vital treatment and causing unnecessary suffering.
“I have committed to making this a year of dementia awareness. I will shortly visit every region, encouraging those responsible to make a difference. I want local areas to set ambitious targets for improved dementia diagnosis. We must make England one of the best places in Europe for dementia care.”
Prime Minister David Cameron launched the Dementia Challenge last year which identifies key areas where Government aims to make a difference:
- making sure health and social care systems are properly geared up to deal with the crisis
- radically stepping up research into cures and treatments, with overall funding for research doubled to reach £66m by 2015
- getting society involved in the fight: communities, charities, businesses
You can join the fight against dementia, by signing up to be a ‘dementia friend’. The new scheme from the Alzheimer’s Society sees people being given free awareness sessions to help them understand dementia better.
Speak to your GP
Alzheimer’s Society’s advice is to speak to your GP if you are worried about your memory and experiencing symptoms such as:
- struggling to remember recent events (despite being able to recall things that happened in the past)
- finding it difficult to follow conversations or programmes on TV
- having problems thinking and reasoning and regularly forgetting the names of friends or everyday objects
People who are worried about their memory can also contact Alzheimer’s Society’s National Dementia helpline on 0300 222 1122 or can visit alzheimers.org.uk/memoryworry