Over 400,000 people in the UK are living with dementia without knowing it, figures released by the Alzheimer’s Society suggest.
There has been a 3% increase in the number of people diagnosed with dementia. However, some 428,000 people have not been formally diagnosed with the condition.
The statistics also show a wide variety of diagnosis rates, with 31.6% of dementia sufferers in East Riding of Yorkshire being correctly diagnosed compared with 75.5% in Belfast.
Alzheimer’s Society surveyed a number of memory clinics in the UK examine how well people with dementia are being assessed and treated, with two-thirds of all PCTs responding. Evidence shows that 27 memory services are accredited - equating to 11% of all clinics in the UK.
The average waiting time for an appointment is 32.5 working days, while some memory clinics reported longer waiting times of up to nine months. The Memory Service National Accreditation Programme has a recommendation of four to six weeks’ waiting time.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It’s disgraceful that almost half of all people with dementia are not receiving a diagnosis, and disappointing to see such a disparity in diagnosis rates in different regions of the UK.
“This goes against best clinical practice and is preventing people with dementia from accessing the support, benefits and the medical treatments that can help them live well with the condition.”
The Alzheimer’s Society has produced an interactive map which highlights the number of people who have a diagnosis of dementia in different primary care trusts in the UK.
Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the report “makes for disappointing reading” and should be a “wake-up call” for everyone in healthcare.
He said: “We believe that specialist nurses can help screen for dementia and promote greater coordination in care, but they need to be supported by proper resources and a healthcare workforce which is properly trained to recognise and care for dementia.”