GPs in North Norfolk are hoping to increase dementia diagnosis rates by piloting the use of an iPad app to test patients’ memory.

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Five practices in North Norfolk have begun using the technology to help detect the early signs of dementia in older patients.

CANTABmobile is a ten-minute assessment that gives health professionals a clear idea whether a patient should be referred for further tests.

The pilot is the first of its kind in Norfolk and is being co-ordinated by North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) as part of the organisation’s Living Well with Dementia Project, which was established earlier this year.

The scheme aims to promote the early diagnosis of dementia in North Norfolk and ensure that adequate services are in place to support individuals and their carers after diagnosis.

The number of people with dementia in Norfolk is set to rise from 13,000 to more than 20,000 by 2025 as the county’s population gets older.

The five surgeries taking part are the Birchwood Medical Practice, in North Walsham, Holt Medical Practice, Fakenham Medical Practice, Blofield Surgery, and Reepham Surgery.

Ellis Layward, clinical commissioning manager at the CCG, who is leading the project, said: “Dementia is more commonly a disease of age and with the largest proportion of over 65s of any CCG in England, this is a big priority for us.”

Mr Layward said early diagnosis of dementia is vital as it helps people access treatment and services and gives them time to plan for the future.

“The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner medicines can be offered that can improve their symptoms, or temporarily slow down their progression.”

The app has been developed by Cambridge Cognition, the leading global provider of cognitive testing software, and is already in use in a number of GP practices across the UK.

Designed to test people aged between 50 and 90, the touch screen app uses symbols rather than words to assess the memory through pattern matching.

The test results do not deliver a diagnosis of dementia but show whether or not the patient should be investigated further.

Have you got a health story? Contact Adam Gretton on 01603 772419 or email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

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