Increased investment in dementia diagnosis

There has never been a better time for Camden residents to talk to their GP if they are concerned about their own or a loved one’s memory. NHS Camden Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has increased its investment to support the diagnosis of dementia in the borough by almost 70 per cent.

Funding for the Camden memory service, which is provided by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust to assess and diagnose people, has increased from £462,539 to £782,539[1] a year. This will ensure more people are assessed and diagnosed in a timely and sensitive way. 

Dr Caz Sayer, a local GP and Chair of NHS Camden CCG, said improving diagnosis rates is the key to ensuring people with dementia can access appropriate care and support so that they can live full and active lives.

“Camden’s dementia diagnosis rate now stands at 56% which is higher than the current England average of around 45%. This is the fourth highest rate out of London’s 32 CCGs and the 23rd highest in the country,” she said.

“However, although we are heading in the right direction, there is still much more to be done. This increased investment in the Camden memory service will help provide additional capacity to assess and diagnose people in the borough.

“We believe large numbers of people in Camden may be living with undiagnosed dementia but support is available and I would urge anyone who is concerned about their memory or the memory of a loved one to seek help by speaking to their GP in the first instance.”

Many people with dementia also have at least one other long-term health condition so it is especially important that they get the ‘joined-up’ and coordinated care which Camden is now delivering to people.

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust’s Dr Suzanne Joels, Consultant Psychiatrist and Divisional Clinical Lead, Services for Ageing and Mental Health, said the Camden memory service has seen a big increase in referrals over the past two years. 

“Timely and sensitive diagnosis is important for people living with dementia as it can improve their quality of life and allows them to plan for the future,” she said.

“We work very closely with GPs and other services in the community so that people living with dementia in Camden receive early diagnosis, are able to access interventions and they and their carers can receive the appropriate support.”

According to statistics published by NHS England, there are currently 670,000 people with dementia in England but over 350,000 of these people remain undiagnosed.

Common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia include:

  • memory loss, especially problems with memory for recent events, such as forgetting messages, remembering routes or names, and asking questions repetitively
  • increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require organisation and planning
  • becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
  • difficulty finding the right words
  • difficulty with numbers and/or handling money in shops
  • changes in personality and mood 
  • depression

As the population lives for longer, increasing numbers of people are living with long-term conditions like dementia. It is predicted that the number of people with dementia will double over the next 30 years.

Most types of dementia can't be cured, but if it is detected early there are ways that it can be slowed down so that the person diagnosed can maintain their mental function and live a fuller life for longer.  

For more information about dementia or Alzheimers visit www.alz.org