Doctors Delaying Diagnosis of Dementia

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

Doctors’ efficiency at recognising dementia varies considerably across the country. 37% of people with the condition in the south west receive a diagnosis compared with 46% in the north east and almost 70% in parts of Northern Ireland, according to Alzheimer’s Society figures based on NHS data. Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said the variation in diagnosis rates in different regions was unacceptable. There is a lack of uniformity with some GP’s being more effective than others at diagnosing Alzheimer’s which is something that the government must tackle in its new initiative to improve dementia care.

At a conference last week, Alzheimer’s sufferers told David Cameron that they and their families had in some cases noticed the condition developing before doctors made the link between their symptoms and the disease. Identifying the condition early is crucial because it gives doctors the opportunity to step in before the disease becomes too severe. The Prime Minister announced last week that he would more than double funding for dementia research from £26.6m in 2010 to £66m in 2015. Sir Mark Walport said it was essential to invest the money in social care research which could help people live independently at home for longer. There should also be longer and more expensive studies aimed at finding new drugs or therapies to treat the disease.

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