Postcode Lottery: Time To Stop Treating People With Dementia As Second Class Citizens

Figures published in the ‘State of the Nation’ report released by the Department of Health show that less than half of people with dementia receive a diagnosis.

The report also shows huge disparities in support across the country, leaving people with the condition in the dark.

Despite diagnosis rates rising slightly by two per cent to 48 per cent, there are still another 416,000 (52 per cent people) living with dementia who are not diagnosed. Many of those who obtain a diagnosis in this postcode lottery still wait over the national recommended time of 12 weeks for a formal diagnosis.

Earlier this year, David Cameron outlined his ambition for diagnosis rates to reach 66 per cent by 2015 as part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia. However, today’s figures show there continues to be huge variation with rates ranging from 32 per cent in Herefordshire to 75 in Corby per cent across the country.

The report geographically maps the quality of care for people with dementia. The general public can use the online interactive map to see how well their local services are supporting people with dementia. It shows:

  • Waiting times for referral to a memory clinic

Alzheimer’s Society is calling for dementia to be made a priority and for best practice to be shared. It is also calling on wider society to help make their community more dementia friendly in order to help reduce stigma and ensure people with dementia are supported to feel included.

The report highlighted that as many as 47 per cent of people with dementia do not feel part of their community. Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friendly Communities programme aims to combat this by encouraging towns and cities to become dementia-friendly. A dementia-friendly community is a city, town or village where people with dementia are understood, respected, supported, and confident they can contribute to community life. So far 24 cities are officially recognised, having signed up to the recognition process, with many more making progress.

Derek Quinn, 72, from North Wiltshire had a four year battle to get a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

‘When I started noticing problems with my memory I went to the GP, but was told that because I’d recently lost my job and moved house this was probably down to stress. I was told to come back in a year if things hadn’t improved.

‘I knew things just weren’t right. I had started a new company but found I was having difficulty with simple tasks that used to be second nature. It took over four years of struggling to get a diagnosis – my wife and I really had to push for it. Only then could we begin to prepare for the future and tell family and friends. Of course a dementia diagnosis is daunting, but it has helped me get on with my life.’

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society said:

‘The announcement shows that by entering your postcode you enter a lottery. Depending on where you live you may be more or less likely to get a timely diagnosis of dementia and access to the support you need. This is simply unacceptable. Wherever you live, you should be entitled to care and support when you have Alzheimer’s disease or any form of dementia. It is a National Health Service. It is time to stop treating people with dementia as second class citizens.

 

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