Jeremy Hunt tackles 'shockingly low' dementia diagnosis rates

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Jeremy Hunt has announced NHS England will be tackling "shockingly low" dementia diagnosis rates, with plans that could identify and treat 160,000 people unknowingly living with the condition.

The plan will aim to see two thirds of dementia sufferers identified and given appropriate support by 2015; an increase from 39% in 2010 and the current average of 45%.

According to the Department of Health (DoH), there are currently 670,000 people with dementia in England but 350,000 of those remain undiagnosed and without access to support.

The DoH said in a statement today: "With the number of people with dementia set to double in the next 30 years and costs expected to rise to £19bn, 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 the existing postcode lottery which sees some areas with rates as low as 32%. Currently the best performing local area is identifying 67% of people."

The new plan comes one year after the Government launched its Challenge on Dementia, as part of the initiative.

The Challenge aims to reform the Uk's approach to dementia including; increased research funding to £66m by 2015; an awareness campaign with trained support workers; £1m funding for NHS projects to increase diagnosis rates; and £50m funding to adapt wards and care homes.

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.

"Dementia is a serious and growing problem so this ambitious drive to see a clear majority of people identified and supported is a major step forward."

The drive to improve diagnosis will be led by local Clinical Commissioning Groups working with local health and wellbeing boards and supported by NHS England.
Over the summer, the Government will also announce successful bidders to work with a £50m fund for specially adapted wards and care home spaces for dementia sufferers.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "The past year has seen huge progress in the fight against dementia. We've rallied schoolchildren, bankers, doctors, care workers and more to change the way we treat people with the condition.
"But the fight is not nearly over. Less than half of people with dementia have a diagnosis, denying them the support they need to live well."
The Care Bill, published last Friday in Parliament, set out reforms for social care with new rights for carers, alongside the introduction in 2016 of a cap on individuals' long-term care costs.

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