GPs told to boost dementia diagnoses

GP surgeries will be sent 'dementia toolkits' and asked to improve detection of dementia as part of a new scheme championed by prime minister David Cameron.

Prime minister David Cameron: dementia challenge must not be underestimated
Prime minister David Cameron: dementia challenge must not be underestimated

The toolkits will 'better equip' GPs to spot the condition and are one of a raft of new measures aiming to improve dementia care.

One million people will be trained in community centres as 'Dementia Friends' to recognise symptoms in friends and family members and to support those with the condition.

Prime minister David Cameron said society needed to be 'more understanding' of dementia, which affects nearly 700,000 people in England. The number affected is set to double within three decades.

In March, ministers announced memory checks would be added to the NHS Health Checks scheme from April 2013.

The GP toolkit is an information pack setting out how GPs can support patients with suspected dementia as their condition develops. It will give GPs an overview of local services and voluntary groups to which they can direct patients.

Under the latest plans, almost £10m will be awarded to dementia research, a £50m fund will pay for adaptations to hospital wards and care homes, and education projects will run in schools. A £1m prize will be awarded to the PCT or hospital that can boost diagnosis rates by the greatest margin.

Mr Cameron said: 'We cannot underestimate the challenge we face in dealing with dementia in our country.

'There are already nearly 700,000 sufferers in England alone but less than half are diagnosed and general awareness about the condition is shockingly low.'

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: 'I want Britain to be one of the best places in Europe for dementia care.'

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: 'Day-to-day tasks such as going to the shop or catching a bus can become increasingly difficult for people with dementia. Without a helping hand, this can mean people are left feeling isolated, unable to be part of their community and in some cases even unable to continue living at home.'

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