Up to Half of Dementia Patients Undiagnosed

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Byline: Helen Rae Health Reporter helen.rae@ncjmedia.co.uk

AS MANY as half of dementia sufferers living in the North East are undiagnosed and failing to access medical care, new figures claim.

A new report claims that more than 50% of those suffering from the illness in Northumberland are receiving no help as they struggle to cope.

Dementia diagnosis in the region varies from almost 71% to more than 45% according to information from the Department of Health.

The State of the Nation report and interactive map shows that South Tyneside has the highest dementia diagnosis rates in the North East, while Northumberland has the lowest.

Alzheimer's Society is now calling on health and social care bodies to set dementia as a local priority and for best practice in places such as South Tyneside, which has the second highest diagnosis rate in England, to be shared.

Danielle Hayes, the Newcastlebased Alzheimer's Society Operations Manager for the South and North of Tyne, said: "It is encouraging to see that parts of the North East are making real progress on dementia diagnosis. However, we must ensure that the successes and best practice that are being seen in the better performing areas are being shared and are used to help drive up standards everywhere.

"A diagnosis opens the door to invaluable support that can help people with dementia to live a good quality of life and plan for the future.

"From GP surgeries to memory clinics, the NHS needs to ensure that people with dementia have access to a diagnosis, followed by immediate and ongoing post-diagnosis support wherever they live."

The statistics examine how many people are living with dementia in each Clinical Commission Group area across the region. Family doctors also provide information to the Department of Health about how many patients they have on their records who have been diagnosed with dementia. The gap between the total number of people living with dementia and the number on GPs' records is the number that are currently undiagnosed.

Currently, 670,000 people in England live with dementia and this number is set to double in the next 30 years. An estimated 21m people in England have a close friend or family member with the illness. The UK is fighting back against dementia domestically and in the run-up to the G8 will lead on co-ordinated international action to beat it.

The interactive map is part of a landmark 'state of the nation' report which shines a light on the quality of dementia care in England.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "Dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face as a nation. …