Published on July 10, 2012 at 9:15 AM
By Lynda Williams
GP training, improved access to memory clinics and a public campaign for awareness are necessary to improve the diagnosis of dementia in the UK, says the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia.
The "Unlocking Diagnosis: The key to improving the lives of people with dementia" report found that only 41% of patients are given a formal diagnosis of dementia, leaving an estimated 400,000 affected patients unable to access treatment, support and benefits.
"Through compulsory accreditation and investment in improving memory services we can help drive up rates of diagnosis and enable people with dementia to access the support they need," said Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society.
"By ensuring people have the support they need at the time they need it we can also save money, as fewer people will need costly and distressing crisis care."
Results from the inquiry revealed the need for public education, as patients frequently delayed discussing symptoms with their GP. Diagnosis was further delayed with patients waiting an average of 3 months to attend a memory clinic.
Of concern, around 40% of GPs stated they had undergone little or no training on dementia care since medical school, prompting the recommendation that mandatory GP training be extended by a year, with a focus on dementia care including use of assessment tools.
The report also recommends that membership of the Memory Services National Accreditation Programme should be mandatory for all services by 2015 to ensure consistent quality across the country.
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