Dementia Diagnosis Times Will Be Cut

Patients To Be Diagnosed Within Six Weeks, Rather Than Six Months

28.02.2014

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is determined to improve the quality of care offered to dementia patients in the UK.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he suggested that plans are in place to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to diagnose somebody with the condition.

As things stand, people have to wait up to six months before they receive confirmation, but as of March 2015, this will be scaled down to just six weeks.

According to statistics provided by the Alzheimer's Society, one in three people over the age of 65 living in the UK will develop dementia and around 800,000 residents are currently living with some form of the illness.

Speaking at an international summit in Paris, Mr Hunt stated that although three-quarters of the country have managed to reduce diagnosis times down to six weeks, current waiting times in certain parts of Britain are "scandalous".

With experts predicting the number of dementia sufferers living in the UK will rise to one million in the next ten years and to 1.7 million by 2051, there is an urgent need for improvements in health care.

"How we respond to dementia is the litmus test of whether we can face up to the challenge of an ageing population, and do so in a way which allows compassion and dignity," Mr Hunt was quoted as saying.

Mr Hunt added that dementia can be a "horrific and heartbreaking disease" and it is his mission to ensure the UK becomes the best place in the world for speedy diagnosis and a leading player in the global search for a cure.

Earlier this month, the Alzheimer's Society highlighted the findings of a new report by Alzheimer's Disease International and Compass Group, which raised serious questions about the standard of care received by dementia patients in UK care homes.

It discovered that hundreds of thousands of people have been left malnourished and previous studies have shown that up to half of care home dementia patients in developed countries have an inadequate food intake.

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Expert Opinion
Dementia is a serious and debilitating condition and patients deserve the best possible care. As the UK population continues to age, action must be taken to ensure care and diet plans are thorough and tailored to the individual to ensure they can live with and manage the illness in the best possible way.

“To see that currently thousands of people are being left malnourished in care homes is appalling as all patients should have their basic needs met in a dignified manner – and food and water are clearly fundamental.

“We work on behalf of dementia sufferers who require around-the-clock support and for them to be let down in this way and treated with so little dignity is simply unacceptable.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner