Poorer dementia patients are less likely to be prescribed the drugs they need to manage the condition.
This is according to new research from University College London (UCL), which found individuals from more affluent areas are 27 per cent more likely to receive treatments. Interestingly, this disparity was only notable in England and not in other parts of the UK.
Dr Claudia Cooper of UCL said that when access to any treatment is rationed, as is the case with dementia drugs, wealthier people are normally better equipped to find their way around the restrictions.
She suggested a number of factors could be behind this, ranging from doing more research on treatment options, to being more confident and assertive when dealing with the NHS.
“We urgently need strategies to improve access to dementia treatments for people in more deprived areas in England. These should focus on offering drug treatments to people with treatable dementia types of any severity and ensuring that future prescribing policies do not introduce barriers to care that are less penetrable to people in poorer areas," Dr Cooper stated.
She said the reason that issue only seems to be prevalent in England may be a result of the differing health policies adopted in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In both of these nations, health spending is higher and more dementia drugs are prescribed in general. This means the disparity between rich and poor is likely less pronounced due to easier treatment availability.
Professor Alan Thompson, dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences, added that ensuring people of all incomes have equal access to dementia treatments is just as important as developing new ones.
"Dementia is not simply a medical issue, it is also a social, political and economic challenge," he stated.
Find out about dementia care and support services at Barchester care homes.