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Dementia care needs improving

4th July 2007

A National Audit Office report has said the NHS must quickly deal with problems in dementia care in order to meet future requirements.

Old HandsThe watchdog's report has shown that England ranked in the last third of countries in Europe when it came to availability of medicine for patients. Patient diagnosis took twice as long in the UK than in other countries. The NAO warned that only a third of dementia sufferers are ever given a formal diagnosis.

There are an estimated 560,000 people suffering from dementia in England - a figure which it is thought will rise to 750,000 by 2020. The cost to the health and social services is around £3.3bn per year.

NAO head Sir John Bourn said: "For too long dementia has not been treated as a high priority. Without redesign, services for people with dementia are likely to become increasingly inconsistent and unsustainable."

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, called for the development of health and social services in order to "respond to the challenge of dementia."

Health Minister Ivan Lewis said the government knew that there was considerable room for improvement and that funds had been boosted.

The High Court is currently reviewing a challenge by drugs companies and the Alzheimer's Society in relation to the guidance issued to the health service by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

NICE had advised that certain drugs did not represent value for money for patients suffering from the early stages of dementia.

 

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