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CCGs to help increase dementia diagnosis

CCGs to help increase dementia diagnosis
17 May 2013

CCGs, with support from NHS England, have been tasked with increasing dementia diagnosis rates across England, Jeremy Hunt has announced. 

CCGs, with support from NHS England, have been tasked with increasing dementia diagnosis rates across England, Jeremy Hunt has announced. 

CCGs will be working with health and wellbeing boards to drive diagnosis, with NHS England providing advice on improving diagnosis and setting up additional memory services where needed. 
The plans aim to see two-thirds of people with dementia identified and given appropriate support by 2015, an increase from 39% in 2010 and the current average of around 45%.
There are currently 670,000 people with dementia in England but 350,000 of those people remain undiagnosed and without access to support.
With the number of people with dementia set to double in the next 30 years and costs expected to rise to £19 billion, the government believes improved diagnosis will be key if the system is to cope effectively with the predicted surge in numbers.
Focusing on driving up diagnosis will also correct what the government has described as a “postcode lottery” which sees some areas with rates as low as 32%. Currently the best performing local area is identifying 67% of people.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “For too long diagnosis rates have been shockingly low, leaving too many people living in the dark trying to cope with this terrible condition undiagnosed, unable to get the help they need and deserve.
“I am pleased that NHS England has set a clear direction and sent a message to the NHS that we must do more. I fully support every GP, doctor and health worker who accepts this challenge.”
‘First steps’
Although the average diagnosis rate across England is now at around 45%, up from 42% in 2010/11, this leaves more than half of people undiagnosed.
Dr Martin McShane, Director NHS England said: “CCGs have already taken the first steps in addressing this national ambition, with new information, provided by NHS England, to help them understand the scale of challenge at a local level. 
“We will also be sharing best practice and effective ways of meeting the needs of people, once diagnosed.”
Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) chair Dr Clare Gerada said she hopes the announcement will translate into “proper funding and resources”. 
She said: "Appropriate diagnosis is one of the biggest challenges currently facing GPs and the NHS, and distinguishing between dementia and age related memory loss only adds to the complexity.
However, she added: "Approaches to diagnosis and treatment must be shaped first and foremost by the needs and expressed wishes of the individual patient, their families and carers. 
"Not every person with dementia will find the advantages of an early diagnosis outweigh the possible disadvantages and evidence shows that if a person’s wellbeing is not enhanced by receiving a diagnosis, then it should not be forced upon them. In many areas, the local availability of assessment and support services is also insufficient to meet demand.” 

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