Government map to expose dementia care gaps
Significant gaps in care for dementia sufferers will be exposed by an interactive online map being published by the government as part of a bid to improve the way they are treated by the NHS.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said allowing patients to see which parts of England were guilty of “poor performance” would help tackle what he calls a health and care “time bomb”.
Fewer than half of people living with dementia have a diagnosis, official figures show, and the rate has improved only slightly - from 46% to 48% - over the last two years.
Even that increase masks wide discrepancies across different areas - with the best performing almost twice as well as the worst - 75% versus 39%.
The map will show diagnosis rates, referral rates and the frequency of anti-psychotic drug prescription for the 670,000 people with dementia.
It is part of a “state of the nation” report examining how well the condition is being dealt with - ahead of a summit of G8 nations in London next month called by Prime Minister David Cameron.
The World Health Organization estimates that the number of people worldwide living with dementia could more than treble to 115.4 million by 2050 due to the ageing population.
The figure is expected to pass the million mark in the UK alone by the end of 2020.
Mr Hunt said: “Dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face as a nation.
“This report and map will help drive up standards of dementia care across the country by showing what excellent care looks like, and challenging the rest to become like the best. Full transparency is the best way to drive up standards and tackle poor performance.
“We must come together as a society to get better at fighting dementia. We all have a role to play in helping people manage dementia better and supporting them to lead healthier lives.”
The report points to an almost doubling in government-funded research, a four-fold increase in the number assessed by memory clinics, and training for 108,000 NHS staff in spotting early symptoms.
But shadow minister for care and older people Liz Kendall said: “If David Cameron was serious about improving the quality of dementia care, he would not have cut council budgets for older people’s social care to the bone.
“And if Jeremy Hunt was serious about improving transparency, he would be publishing how many 15-minute home visits there are in each area, and how many people with dementia have unnecessarily ended up in hospital or having to go into a care home because they can’t get the help they need to stay living in their own homes.
“Dementia is indeed one of the biggest challenges facing this country - but, under David Cameron’s watch, care for people with dementia is getting worse not better.”
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