UEA expert claims dementia checks for all over-75s would be a “disaster”

Dr Chris Fox, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School.

Dr Chris Fox, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School. - Credit: UEA

Government plans to introduce dementia checks for all people aged over 75 would be a 'disaster', a local health expert has claimed.

Dr Chris Fox from UEA's Norwich Medical School is calling for dementia screening to not go ahead.

The former NHS consultant will speak out at the TEDMEDLive healthcare conference in Bristol today and say the stigma and anxiety caused by being diagnosed with early signs of dementia would greatly outweigh any benefits.

With no treatment to follow early diagnosis either, Dr Fox feels the NHS should not spend millions of pounds which could be spent in saving pre-existing dementia treatment units.

Dr Fox said: 'There is no doubt that we are experiencing a dementia tsunami, with the crest of the wave yet to come. But rolling out routine dementia screening will be an even worse disaster in slow motion.'

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Around 700,000 people in England are living with dementia, a condition which causes a gradual decline in the brain's functioning and causes memory loss.

Prime minister David Cameron and health secretary Andrew Lansley unveiled a doubling of funds for research into dementia last year, to £66m by 2015.

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The prime minister described the number of people in the UK with dementia, which is predicted to double within 25 years, as a 'quiet crisis that steals lives and tears at the hearts of families'.

As part of his 'personal priority' to improve dementia diagnosis rates, doctors could be asked to quiz all patients over 75 about their memory.

The plans have been criticised by doctors, including an open letter to the prime minister in the British Medical Journal.

Now Dr Fox, 47, has added his own criticism, continuing: 'People who are diagnosed with very early-stage dementia will be worse off than people who are not diagnosed until their dementia is more apparent.

'Routine screening means that people will be diagnosed long before they start to show symptoms. The problem is that a diagnosis can turn someone's life upside down years before dementia itself does.

'The main thing that comes with a diagnosis of early dementia is a deeply unfortunate label.'

- Do you agree with Dr Foz? Leave a comment below.

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