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Dementia map reveals low rate of diagnosis in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 08:00 17 January 2013

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.

ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC © 2006

Health ministers have pledged to do more to increase dementia awareness after a report revealed that Norfolk had one of the lowest rates of diagnosis.

New figures released by the Alzheimer’s Society reveal that there is a postcode lottery when it comes to dementia diagnosis across Britain, with Norfolk near the bottom of the league table.

The figures show that more than 8,000 people in Norfolk have undiagnosed dementia with a diagnosis rate of 36pc. In Suffolk, the dementia diagnosis rate is 42pc with an estimated 5,300 people not receiving treatment. The highest rate of diagnosis is East Riding in Yorkshire at 75pc.

Officials at the Alzheimer’s Society have warned that the numbers of undiagnosed cases are set to increase over the next eight years unless more is done to help patients and raise awareness.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, who is also a health minister in the coalition government, called on people in Norfolk to sign up to a scheme to become a ‘dementia friend’.

“It is good that diagnosis rates in Norfolk have improved on last year, but there is still a lot of work to do. If other areas can improve their rates of diagnosis, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to do so here in Norfolk as well. Early diagnosis can make a huge difference to people’s quality of life.”

“Although official diagnosis rates may understate the true position, there is still a massive challenge but it is clear that Norfolk and Suffolk’s Dementia Alliance is leading the way in setting about transforming the care of people with dementia,” he said.

The government launched its dementia challenge last year to increase awareness of the condition and rates of diagnosis. The Department of Health is providing £50m of funding to NHS trusts and local authorities to help tailor hospitals and care homes to the needs of people with dementia. The government is also looking to recruit a million dementia friends by 2015.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society said: “It’s disgraceful that more than half of all people with dementia are not receiving a diagnosis, and disappointing to see such a disparity in diagnosis rates in different regions of the UK. This goes against best clinical practice and is preventing people with dementia from accessing the support, benefits and the medical treatments that can help them live well with the condition. Studies show that an early diagnosis can save the taxpayer thousands of pounds.”

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