The NHS is diagnosing tens of thousands more people with dementia since the start of the pandemic, thanks to NHS recovery efforts.
NHS staff have diagnosed 475,573 people with dementia in September – up more than 52,000 than the same time last year, with diagnosis rates now at a three year high.
Speaking at NHS Providers annual conference today, NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said that the NHS is committed to continuing this diagnosis drive so that more people get the help they need as soon as possible.
NHS England launched new pilots in December to increase diagnosis rates with health professionals going into care homes to assess older adults who may have missed checks during the pandemic.
Heath chiefs are expecting the ambition of diagnosing 66.7% of people over 65 will be met in the next year.
In 14 parts of the country care home residents are being proactively assessed for the condition by specialist nurses and other healthcare professionals. The programme has led to the North West (69.1%) and North East England (66.9%) exceeding the national target and at their highest levels locally since before the pandemic.
A dementia diagnosis is the first step in assessing whether someone would be suitable for treatments, or whether they and their family need further support.
NHS guidance advises that if you are worried about signs of dementia or have concerns about a loved one to contact your GP for an assessment. Once a diagnosis is made, the NHS can provide a range of support, including treatment options.
Earlier this year, NHS England established a national taskforce team to prepare for the potential arrival of new Alzheimer’s treatments, if they are approved by regulators.
Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive said: “A dementia diagnosis can be incredibly daunting for people and their families, but an early diagnosis can ensure that they get the support they need as quickly as possible.
“Thanks to the efforts of NHS staff, tens of thousands more people are now getting a diagnosis than this time last year which opens up doors to further support for patients and their families who suffer from this heart-breaking disease.
“There are many things we can do in the health and care sector to support people if they do get a diagnosis, and importantly there is support for their families and carers too.
“We will press on with our efforts and outreach to detect dementia earlier and I am determined that by next year, we will reach our ambition of diagnosing two thirds of people with dementia so that they don’t have to go through it alone.
“If you have noticed that someone has symptoms, please encourage them to visit their GP for an assessment – the sooner someone is seen the quicker the NHS can help.”
The NHS Long Term Plan committed to offering better support for people with dementia through more support in the community through enhanced community multidisciplinary teams and greater personalised care.