Survey of Norfolk doctors leads to calls for increased dementia support

PUBLISHED: 10:41 23 November 2013 | UPDATED: 10:45 23 November 2013

Willie Cruickshank of Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance.Photo: Steve Adams

Willie Cruickshank of Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance.Photo: Steve Adams

Calls have been made to improve support for people with dementia after almost a third of Norfolk and Suffolk GPs surveyed said there was little point in diagnosing the condition because of a lack of support services.

NHS chiefs have called on the dementia diagnosis rate, which is currently around 40pc, to be raised to 66pc by 2015.

However, the results of a new survey by the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance, revealed that 29pc of GPs questioned said that there was little point in diagnosing people with dementia because there were inadequate or no support services in their area.

More than 100 GPs from across Norfolk and Suffolk responded to the questionnaire, which was co-ordinated by the University of East Anglia.

Willie Cruickshank, director of the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance, said he was pleased to see GPs’ attitudes changing with 81pc disagreeing with a statement that there was little point in diagnosing dementia because there was no cure.

He added that there was a “postcode lottery” in post diagnosis support with some areas offering dementia cafes, information and becoming dementia friendly communities and other areas that offered absolutely nothing.

“The greatest benefit to getting a dementia diagnosis is accessing the services to help to live well with the condition. Our GPs are saying there is no point because there are not the services to send them to. One of the biggest issues is that there is not one organisation responsible for post diagnosis support. It is not necessarily health or necessarily social care.”

“GPs like to fix things and find a cure and four or five years ago they were saying there is no point in diagnosing dementia because there is no cure. There is no cure, but there are benefits of diagnosing,” he said.

Mr Cruickshank added that support did not need to be complex and dementia cafes helped give patients, carers and families the information they need.

The dementia alliance is looking to invest £200,000 in helping to establish around 30 community dementia learning hubs across the two counties to give more support to patients and their carers.

He added that the hubs would aim to build on places that already had dementia cafes and had become or were becoming dementia friendly communities such as Wymondham, Swaffham and Wells and will work with other charities such as Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society, and Sue Ryder Care.

Dementia has been described as a ticking timebomb in Norfolk and the number of people with conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease to rise from more than 13,000 to more than 20,000 by 2025 as the county’s population gets older.

Dementia diagnosis rates, vary from 33pc in West Norfolk to 51pc in the Great Yarmouth and Waveney area.

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