Dementia affects over 800,000 people in the UK. In 2015, 856,700 people in the UK were diagnosed with dementia; 68,536 people in the South West. It is not a disease in its own right and it is not a natural part of ageing. It is an umbrella term that describes a group of symptoms that are caused by many diseases that affect the brain, for example, Alzheimer’s disease.
It is the aspiration of NHS England to achieve an average diagnosis rate for dementia of 66% by April 2015. Diagnosis rates in the South West have historically been low despite drives to shorter wait times to diagnosis, increased GP awareness, and increased provision of post-diagnosis interventions and support services.
South West CCGs currently have diagnosis rates between 47% and 55% and annual increases in rates of 4-6%. At this rate of increase all CCGs in the SW will fall short of the 66% ambition for 2015 without extra evidence-based targeted work to identify people with dementia and ensure they are recorded on GP Quality and Outcomes Framework dementia registers. Diagnosis will directly benefit people with dementia, their carers, and families because having a diagnosis confirmed and recorded by their GP will make it easier to access local services, support and care in the future. The South West SCN disseminates good practice and benchmarks CCG progress through the Dementia Improvement Group. For further information, please click on the Dementia Improvement Group link on the right hand side of this page. In May 2014 the Dementia SCN launched a programme of work with 10 CCGs in the South West to develop individual diagnosis rate projects tailored to local requirements investing over £150k in these projects. The aim is to improve diagnosis rates by up to 10% by March 2015.
The South West SCN are also supporting the implementation of dementia risk reduction in the South West by providing input into Public Health England’s (PHE) Dementia Risk Reduction Group, and will work with CCG dementia leads to ensure that dementia prevention is included in all commissioning plans. We are also supporting CCGs in commissioning services for early onset and rare dementias by coordinating a working group for young onset dementias (including Huntington’s Chorea), and improving the quality of dementia care in hospitals by coordinating a working group for mental health inpatient length of stays. For more information, please click on the relevant working group link to the right hand side of this page.
In addition the South West SCN has continued to work closely with the regional team, as it is part of the regional delivery groups that are supporting the national ambitions on dementia services.
To discuss any aspects of our work, please contact Gayle Bridgman or Rebecca Vermeer using the ‘Contact Us’ tab.
NHS England has published a Dementia Toolkit aimed at helping GPs make more timely diagnosis and referral into post-diagnostic support.