Tackling dementia is as vital as cancer and CHD

The DoH needs to put dementia high on its agenda to improve diagnosis rates and treatment in England, according to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

An estimated 560,000 people in England have dementia, costing the economy £14.3 billion a year. But despite this, it is still not a priority for the DoH or NHS.

In a report out this week, the PAC has called for a dementia czar to be appointed to ensure the condition is given the same importance as cancer and CHD.

The National Dementia Strategy, now being drawn up, needs to address problems such as poor diagnosis and lack of available treatments recommended by NICE, said the report.

Up to two-thirds of dementia patients never receive a formal diagnosis, with little awareness among public and professionals about what can be done to help.

All patients must be identified and informed, even if there are no suitable interventions, according to the report. The low diagnosis rate may be due to a lack of GP training in the area.

A National Audit Office survey of GPs has shown that just 31 per cent had received basic and post-qualifying training to diagnose and manage dementia.

In order to boost diagnosis rates, GPs need more support from mental health services. The RCGP and Royal College of Psychiatrists have therefore been told to develop a dementia care pathway, focusing on early diagnosis.



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