Dementia patients 'aren't being referred to specialists'

Dementia patients 'aren't being referred to specialists'

New data has revealed that thousands of dementia patients in the UK are not being referred to specialists.

After being admitted to hospital, as few as three per cent of suspected dementia sufferers are looked at by an expert, the Telegraph reports.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: "The wide variation in referrals to specialist services suggests that many older people at risk of or having dementia are not being identified.

"It is worrying to think of the number of people with dementia slipping through the net and missing out on a diagnosis."

In 2012, the government initiated a new scheme to make sure anybody over the age of 75, who was admitted to hospital, should be checked for dementia and sent to a specialist if any signs are there.

It set a target of following this procedure in 90 per cent of cases, but some institutions only have a two to three per cent rate.

Care and support for dementia patients is crucial but it is only provided to less than half of them in the UK, because the others are undiagnosed.

Only 320,000 individuals are recognised to have the disease out of a suspected 670,000.

Many of these people who haven't been diagnosed end up in hospital because of a lack of treatment and, with reports that some of them aren't referring these patients to a specialist, they can be sent home and a cycle ensues.

NHS England estimate that around 4,000 patients with suspected dementia were not sent to see an expert in 2013.

There is an added burden on A&E departments due to the high volume of situations that could be avoided if people were accurately diagnosed.

Alzheimer's patients who are admitted to hospital are likely to remain there for longer than people with other conditions or injuries.

A study in December also discovered that people with dementia also had high readmission and mortality rates.

Find out about dementia care and support services at Barchester care homes.