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Improvements for dementia care

22nd November 2006

09082006_alzheimers1.jpgThe UK's 750,000 sufferers of dementia need better care, with access to specialist services, according to new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

NICE has called for better coordination of services and wants carers to be given access to counselling.

But the watchdog has come under fire from campaigners still fighting its decision to restrict the use of certain drugs for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

NICE has argued dementia care was about more than just prescribing drugs.

The guidance calls for health and social care to close the gap and provide a seamless service to patients and their carers, and has warned other health services not to exclude sufferers because of their condition.

Patients should also be able to access scans and memory assessment clinics which can help improve diagnosis and treatment.

It’s recommendations have been produced with the Social Care Institute for Excellence for services in England and Wales.

It comes as the watchdog faces its first ever legal challenge over its decision to deny people with early or late-stage Alzheimer's disease access to donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Reminyl) and rivastigmine.

A fourth drug, memantine (Ebixa), is to be used only in clinical studies of people with moderately severe to severe Alzheimer's disease.

Eisai and Pfizer, who make the drugs, have notified NICE that they intend to seek a judicial review of how the decision was reached.

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