The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has promised to transform the UK into a “global leader” in the fight against dementia. Hunt is aiming that, by March 2015, elderly people in the UK suspected to be suffering from dementia will be diagnosed within 6 weeks. Currently, diagnosis in some parts of the UK can take up to 6 months.
Speaking in an interview with The Telegraph, the Health Secretary outlined a number of promises; he aims to help the most vulnerable dementia sufferers, reduce the stigma surrounding the condition and train staff to spot signs of dementia.
He commented: “There are parts of the country where it takes 6 months to get a dementia diagnosis, which is absolutely scandalous. I want to get to a situation where the average across the whole country is no more than 6 weeks.”
Speaking at the International Summit in Paris, the Health Secretary commented that Britain could learn from France’s model of care; French doctors are more likely to detect the condition earlier which means better dementia care. There are also national memory clinics which ensure elderly French people are diagnosed and treated more rapidly.
Waiting times for dementia assessment range from 15 weeks at Basildon Memory Service to around 25 weeks at Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust’s memory clinic. Figures from the Department of Health estimate that only half of the 670,000 people in England suffering from dementia have received a diagnosis.