‘Thousands’ unaware they have dementia

Dr Nick Tupper
Dr Nick Tupper

Health bosses are bracing themselves for one their ‘biggest challenges’ as it was revealed nearly 2,000 people in Doncaster are unaware they are living with dementia,

The NHS says it is being inundated with patients suffering from the life changing illness as it revealed that it shelled out £43.4 million alone last year on dementia care.

Doncaster has now been chosen to trail-blaze a scheme which aims to help dementia suffers lead as normal life as possible as it was revealed that borough health chiefs are among the best in the country at detecting and diagnosing dementia, according to government figures.

The Department of Health’s newly published dementia map shows that nearly 4,000 Doncaster people are believed to have the disease, and currently just over half have been formally diagnosed.

The diagnosis rate is well above average and close to the top quarter of best performing areas in the country – 58th out of a possible 211.

Dr Nick Tupper, chairman of NHS Doncaster’s Clinical Commissioning Group described the illness as a “one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS”.

He added: “Based on the prevalence of dementia across the country, we would expect a borough with the population size of Doncaster to have around 3,700 people with the disease and we currently have diagnosed 2,022, leaving what we believe is a shortfall of approximately 1,700 people.

“The challenge now for local services is to close the gap between those who have been diagnosed and those who haven’t. Dementia is a top priority for improving services for the CCG.”

According to figures taken from the Dementia Joint Strategic Needs Assessment 2013 the prevalence of dementia in Doncaster is currently around 3,875 but expected to rise to 4,034 by 2015/16.

Last year in Doncaster, the NHS spent over £650,000 on prescriptions for anti-dementia drugs.

Dr Tupper added that bosses were also working with charities to raise awareness of the disease’s symptoms.

Alzheimer’s Disease International says 44 million people live with the disease, but that figure will increase to 135 million by 2050.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the UK’s Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Dementia is fast becoming the biggest health and social care challenge of this generation. We must tackle dementia now, for those currently living with the condition across the world and for those millions who will develop dementia in the future.”

The Government’s new map gives a ‘snapshot’ of the country’s response to the dementia challenge issued by the Prime Minister in March 2012.

See the January 30 edition of the Doncaster Free Press for a dementia feature including an exclusive chat with a woman who was diagnosed in her 40s.