Borough’s hidden dementia victims

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LESS than half of people with dementia in Wigan borough have been diagnosed with the disease says a leading charity.

The Alzheimer’s Society has slammed diagnosis rates, saying there is a “disgraceful” variation in the number of proportion with dementia being diagnosed across the UK,

The charity has produced a Dementia Map, which reveals diagnosis rates across the UK.

Wigan has a 46 per cent diagnosis rate, which the society say is not good enough. The map reveals that there are 3,354 people in the borough who have dementia, of which 1,800 remain undiagnosed.

The society predict this number to rise to 4,532 by 2021.

In other parts of the UK, diagnosis rates are far higher. Those living in Scotland (64 per cent) and Northern Ireland (63 per cent) have better care say the society.

However, Wigan health chiefs say more people than ever are being diagnosed.

Dr Kate Ardern, executive director of public health for the borough of Wigan (pictured), said: “Latest figures show that more people are being diagnosed with dementia across Wigan borough which is a good thing because early diagnosis of dementia means that people can make their own choices about their lives and about their treatment before the onset of the disease.

Another reason is that treatments are now available that if administered in the early stages can help to slow the progression of the disease.

So it is very important that people visit their GP as soon as they feel they may have any symptoms of dementia.”

Jeremy Hughes, the chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It’s disgraceful that more than half of all people with dementia are not receiving a diagnosis, and disappointing to see such a disparity in diagnosis rates in different regions of the UK.

“This goes against best clinical practice and is preventing people with dementia from accessing the support, benefits and the medical treatments that can help them live well with the condition.”

The charity said one explanation was variation in “stigma”, which resulted in people not visiting their GP.

The higher figures in Scotland were put down to a better relationship between social services and the healthcare system.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The small improvement in dementia diagnosis is good news, but the extreme variation across the country is unacceptable.

“It’s time for the worst performing areas to wake up to the dementia time bomb.”

He said failing to diagnose dementia was delaying treatment and “causing unnecessary suffering”.

To view the Dementia Map visit: http://alzheimers.org.uk/dementiamap