There are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, with 81,000 in the South West. This number is predicted to double in the next 30 years. Dementia is an umbrella term for the many subtypes of this neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Following the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020, NHS England’s aspiration is to achieve an average dementia diagnosis rate of 66.7%. The South West has historically had the lowest diagnosis rates in the country, despite ongoing interventions and support to both GPs and services. The South West dementia diagnosis rate for integrated care systems currently lies between 52% and 68%.

The Mental Health Clinical Network looks to support services to achieve and maintain dementia diagnosis rate, support integrated care boards to achieve IAF standard and support improvements in post-diagnostic support. The current work programme looks to focus on:

  • Training and education for GPs to support diagnosis of dementia in primary care
  • Referral to treatment times for memory assessment services
  • Improving the quality of Dementia Annual Review and what a good review looks like
  • Data collection, cleansing and consistent coding of dementia diagnosis
  • Supporting nursing homes around dementia diagnosis and management

The South West Mental Health Clinical Network shares best practice across the region via the Dementia Improvement Group, run by our Clinical Lead Dr Peter Bagshaw, along with service users and carers, commissioners of dementia services and dementia providers. This group informs the work programme of the clinical network, by providing a steer to useful and relevant topics.

In addition, the clinical network has continued to work closely with the regional team, as it is part of the regional delivery groups that are supporting the national ambitions on dementia services.