Two thirds of GPs say many people with dementia are not being diagnosed because they are not making an appointment to see their doctor, an Alzheimer’s Society survey has revealed. The survey of 382 GPs provides new insight into why diagnosis rates for dementia continue to be so low. Currently, just 43 per cent of people with the condition in the UK are diagnosed.
“This survey gives us vital clues into why thousands of people with dementia are still struggling without a formal diagnosis.”
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society
The survey also found:
- 88 per cent of GPs agreed there were benefits to an early diagnosis of dementia
- Those GPs that agreed there were benefits to an early diagnosis said these benefits included:
- Giving you ‘time to plan for the future’ (84 per cent)
- ‘Access to treatments’ (78 per cent)
- ‘Helping to improve quality of life’ (74 per cent)
- ‘Access to care pathways’ (69 per cent)
As part of its ‘Worried about your memory?’ campaign, Alzheimer’s Society is calling for anyone who is concerned about memory loss to speak to their doctor and contact the charity for further information. The charity is also encouraging GPs to display its ‘Worried about your memory?’ leaflets prominently in surgeries. This is the fifth year that Alzheimer’s Society has sent the leaflets to 10,000 GP practices in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Last year, more than 100,000 people contacted the charity directly as a result of the campaign.
The survey is published a month after David Cameron committed to the first ever Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia, pledging to help drive up diagnosis rates. Currently diagnosis rates vary a great deal across the nations, ranging from 70 per cent in Belfast to 27 per cent in Dorset.
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said:
‘This survey gives us vital clues into why thousands of people with dementia are still struggling without a formal diagnosis. We all forget things now and again but if memory loss is starting to interfere with your daily life, it’s really important not to just ignore it. If someone does have dementia, then it is best to know as soon as possible. They can then access potential treatments, support and plan for the future, along with their family.
‘People not going to their GP is likely to be only part of the picture. To drive up diagnosis rates, we also need to tackle stigma, raise awareness of possible treatments and support, and ensure GPs are better geared up to support people.’