Dementia diagnosis delays reported
Published on 19 July 2013 11:30 AM
There are big variations in the levels of care received by dementia patients, with some having to wait a year for a diagnosis, according to a new report.
Patients in some areas are not only having to wait excessively long for a diagnosis but also experience delays in accessing dementia services after diagnosis, the GP magazine investigation found.
Some patients are said to be waiting up to a year for a diagnosis from a specialist memory service despite the fact the Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends a wait of no longer than six weeks.
Delays can increase anxiety
As well as meaning that patients are forced to wait for the NHS treatment and support that a diagnosis brings, the Alzheimer's Society has warned that delays can increase anxiety among patients and their loved ones and heap added pressure on GPs.
George McNamara, head of public affairs and policy at the Alzheimer's Society, described it as 'shocking and unacceptable' that there are still major disparities in the provision of dementia care.
He pointed out that the NHS has already pledged to improve diagnosis rates but said more needs to be done in providing people with support post-diagnosis.
'With GPs increasingly being encouraged to spot the signs of dementia in their patients, it's vital that ongoing support is in place for those once diagnosed too.
'More investment into memory clinics is needed to help them provide a consistently effective service; gaining accreditation and maintaining acceptable waiting times,' Mr McNamara added.
Excessive waits for dementia diagnosis are not acceptable
The research by GP magazine found patients waited more than the recommended 6 weeks for a diagnosis in 37 out of 97 clinical commissioning groups.
It said patients in Wiltshire waited up to 12 months in 2012/13 due to a backlog of cases and CT scan delays.
Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association's GPs Committee, agrees excessive waits for a dementia diagnosis are not acceptable.
He told the magazine: 'Improving these areas would make a real difference to patients with dementia and their carers.'
Copyright Press Association 2013