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Half of dementia patients are not receiving adequate support

Half of dementia patients are not receiving adequate support
29th November 2013

Over half people living with dementia in the UK do not receive any support or treatment from the NHS, it has been revealed.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that a big part of the problem is the stigma that surrounds the condition as it means that too often people are scared to go to their doctor to be diagnosed.

Currently, the diagnosis rate is just 48 per cent, but Mr Hunt said the fight against Alzheimer's disease is as great as that against heart disease, cancer and HIV.

Diagnosis is also something of a postcode lottery, with rates being as high as 75 per cent in some regions and as low as 33 per cent in others.

Speaking at the launch of the UK's first ever survey on dementia diagnosis, Mr Hunt said that in many parts of the country people believe there is no point going to get diagnosed because they feel they will not get any help or support anyway.

"We need to ensure that when someone is diagnosed, the system swings into action and gets people the support they need," he stated.

"There is a demographic time bomb but we are not giving people the care we should be giving them."

He added that some GPs also feel there is little point in diagnosing a person, but now there are many things which can be done for patients.

A recent poll found that 39 per cent of people aged 55 fear getting Alzheimer's as they age. This was a higher number than those concerned about cancer.

Despite the health secretary's commitment to improving both diagnosis rates and care provisions, the Labour party remains critical of the government's handling of services for older people.

Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West and Labour spokesperson for the elderly, said that if the coalition are serious about improving dementia care it would not have cut council budgets for older people's social care "to the bone".

Read more about Barchester's dementia care homes.