In March 2012 the Prime Minister issued his challenge on dementia (DoH 2012) which built on the achievements of the National Dementia Strategy (DoH 2009). This set out an ambitious programme of work designed to accelerate the delivery of major improvements in both dementia care and research by 2015. A key part of this is around improving early diagnosis rates for those with dementia. There is currently a ‘gap’ between actual prevalence and diagnosis rates which indicates that:
Individuals are not accessing early intervention services and appropriate support at an early enough stage for them to make choices for themselves and their carers.
Diagnosis is often made at a time of crisis, a crisis that could have been prevented with early diagnosis, and this crisis has both significant emotional and financial implications
GPs may lack the knowledge, tools and training needed for robust dementia identification, referral and diagnosis
Health and social care systems, models and planning is predicated on a substantially smaller dementia population than the actuality which raises strategic resource and capacity concerns
There is insufficient provision of equitable, appropriate, effective, accessible and systematic post-diagnostic support
NHS England have agreed a national ambition for diagnosis rates that by 2015 two-thirds (66.7%) of the estimated number of people with dementia in England should have a diagnosis, be able to access and are using appropriate post-diagnostic support. This also forms part of NHS England action on parity of esteem.
By January 2016 the diagnosis rate nationally stands at 67.2%. For the West Midlands SCN area it is 65.9%
Work continues nationally to improve timely diagnosis rates, and there are a number of resources, tools and techniques available to help CCGs achieve this on the WM SCN website.
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