We need to increase the diagnosis rate for patients with dementia, Professor Alistair Burns said today.
Speaking today on the Community Stage at Camp Expo in Manchester, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Dementia said the current rate of less than 50 per cent was not high enough.
Professor Burns, also Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at the University of Manchester and the Manchester Health Academic Health Science Centre, has made regular calls for more research, better diagnosis and improved support.
Today, while debating the issue with Professor June Andrews, Professor in Dementia Services and Director of Dementia Design School, Stirling University and Beth Britton, a blogger and campaigner on dementia, he continued to champion his vision for the future of NHS services.
Prof Burns said: “Our aspiration is to increase the diagnosis rate and close the gap. It’s a very important point about the variability of services. One of the things that we do at NHS England, working with colleagues in social care, is to raise the profile. There’s also been specific interest in young people with dementia and that’s very important too.”
He said one of the current initiatives, Dementia Friends, was about people gaining better understanding and it has recently been rolled out to big businesses encouraging them to sign up. He also said the Better Care Fund was important in actions such as reducing attendances to A&E.
“The Carers’ Call to Action is a fantastic initiative,” he continued, “Everyone should sign up to that. It’s extremely important.”
It was also debated how England’s rates of dementia diagnosis were falling behind other countries such as Scotland which has a 65 per cent rate compared to England’s less than 50 per cent. But Professor Burns said it wasn’t just about diagnosis but also about the package of services available after diagnosis.
He said: “The health service here is different to in Scotland but I think there’s a nuanced way of getting the diagnosis up. It’s not just a number.”
Other areas considered during the debate included community hubs, treatment for patients who had other long term issues as well as dementia and how every patient should be treated as an individual case.