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Cost of rising emergency dementia admissions revealed

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There has been a 12% growth over five years in the number of people with dementia admitted to hospital as an emergency, according to a report published this week.

The report by the Alzheimer’s Society and consultancy MHP Health Mandate calls for “urgent action” to improve commissioning of dementia services. The report argues this would keep people out of hospital, improve care and reduce cost.

Between 2006-07 and 2010-11 the number of dementia sufferers admitted each year as an emergency rose by 2,000 – costing an estimated £2.8m.

The report, Common and Complex: commissioning effective dementia services in the new world, shows there are also wide and unexplained variations between primary care trust areas. Sixty per cent of PCTs have seen an increase in admissions while 38% have seen a decrease.

Hospitals are failing to accurately diagnose people with dementia, the report says. That partly explains the number of emergency readmissions because “accurate diagnosis is crucial in order to ensure people get the best package of care once they are discharged”. Good care outside hospital will help reduce admissions, the report says.

The study makes 20 recommendations. These include the Department of Health continuing to develop care quality indicators for the NHS outcomes framework and public health and social care outcome frameworks.

It also recommends the NHS Commissioning Board develops further ways to drive better dementia care through the commissioning for quality and innovation (CQUIN) performance pay scheme for providers.

The report also calls for the DH to “pilot new local authority multi-year budgets” to encourage improvements in commissioning dementia services and for local health and wellbeing boards to “promote the concept of pooled budgets between health and social care commissioners”.

Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said: “For many thousands of people with dementia, being admitted to hospital is not the best treatment. It is also very costly. Commissioners must invest in services in the community to reduce this number and help people with dementia to live well at home.”

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