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Missed targets leave thousands of people without a dementia diagnosis

And this is leaving hundreds of thousands of sufferers without the vital verification they need to qualify for new treatments.

For example, Swindon is one of the lowest performing areas with a rate of 49.7% – which means 766 people are missing out on a diagnosis.

That’s a 40.2% difference in the highest rate of diagnosis in Stoke-On-Trent which is 89.9%.

The latest report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia reveals that where a person lives has a “massive impact” on whether or not they will get a timely, accurate and high-quality dementia diagnosis.

Although dementia is the UK’s biggest killer, as many as 258,489 people with dementia in England are estimated to be living without a diagnosis.

While there is currently no cure, there are treatments available and new drugs coming down the line which could delay the progression of the condition.

These medicines will require a diagnosis of the condition but the latest data shows that Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia are still under-diagnosed compared to known prevalence rates.

Now the cross-party MPs, alongside dementia charity Alzheimer’s Society, are calling for a levelling up of diagnosis rates and an urgent improvement in the speed and accuracy of dementia diagnosis.

The committee’s co-chairman Labour’s Debbie Abrahams, who led the inquiry alongside Conservative Peer Baroness Browning, said: “This report shows that at the moment diagnosis rates are simply a postcode lottery.

“All the evidence shows that timely diagnosis is crucial for people with dementia, particularly in increasing access to drugs like donanemab, a new potential treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease.

“We need Integrated Care Boards to introduce strategic local plans to increase access to diagnostic services, significantly increased scanning capacity and workforce.”

The report, which includes findings from a survey of over 2,100 people affected by dementia in England, suggests transport is a major barrier to diagnosis.

One in four people reported being unable to make appointments because of travel problems, with 78 per cent relying on other people for transport.

To combat this, the report proposes that every Integrated Care System (ICS) in England increases service provision to ensure that people can get a diagnosis closer to home.

Encouragingly, the inquiry found that ICSs with the right healthcare systems in place can overcome factors like deprivation and rurality.

In rural Somerset, which has traditionally had low dementia diagnosis rates, there has been a 30 per cent increase in referrals per month since a new service was adopted last year, doubling the number of Dementia Support Workers in the county.

Fiona Carragher, the director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society said: “Dementia is a devastating disease, and delays in diagnosis can lead to crisis.

“We know one in four people with dementia battle symptoms for over two years before seeking a diagnosis, and a third of these people have an accident before looking for help.

“This inquiry lays bare the stark inequalities that still exist in getting a diagnosis – it’s unacceptable that your postcode, your mobility, or your support network can all be factors determining your chance of getting the diagnosis you deserve.

“Today hundreds of thousands of people are facing dementia alone, unable to access the vital help and support that a diagnosis can bring.”

To address the inequality in people’s chance of getting an accurate sub-type dementia diagnosis, the committee is calling for the earliest possible adoption of blood-based biomarker tests, which would reduce the need for expensive and scarce brain scans.

Alzheimer’s Society, along with Alzheimer’s Research UK and the NIHR, have launched the Blood Biomarker Challenge – a £4.5m award which will gather the information needed to introduce a blood test for dementia into UK healthcare systems.

This blood test would be a crucial step in speeding up how quickly and how early people are able to get a diagnosis of dementia, the charity says.



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