DERBYSHIRE: Concerns over county’s low dementia diagnosis rate

Chesterfield Labour MP Toby Perkins.
Chesterfield Labour MP Toby Perkins.

A DERBYSHIRE mental health expert insists the region’s primary care trust is working hard to improve dementia care after Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins argued the county’s diagnosis rate is way behind others in the country.

Mr Perkins claims Alzheimer’s Society figures, released by the Department of Health, show too many sufferers never receive a formal diagnosis and that Derbyshire primary care trust’s diagnosis rate is just 43per cent which is well behind England’s flagship PCT diagnosis rate of 75per cent.

He said: “Early diagnosis is vital. It helps people get the carers, support and treatment they need to live well. It’s extremely worrying that diagnosis rates in our county are below the national average and far behind the best PCTs.”

Mr Perkins raised concerns in a letter to NHS Derbyshire County PCT and questioned whether the Government’s plans to spend £3bn on the reorganisation of the NHS could be better spent on improving services for dementia sufferers.

He claims there are 670,000 people in England and Wales with dementia with over 4,000 cases identified in Derbyshire last year among an aging population.

However, David Gardener, head of mental health commissioning for NHS Derbyshire, insists new GP led commissioning groups, which are to take over the trust’s management role, do take improvements in dementia rates seriously.

He said: “I’ve been in touch with the Hardwick clinical commissioning group raising issues of how we can provide increased support and the hospitals are doing more to identify people with dementia.

“Our rapid assessment and diagnosis set-up is putting more health staff into hospitals to provide support for those with dementia. We need to improve the rate but the whole of England and Wales does too.

“Clinical commissioning groups will be setting targets to increase local performance. They are providing much better engagement with an increase in clinical interest from GPs in addressing problems.

“The groups share concerns that we need to increase the diagnosis rate but we also need to look at support for carers. We want to increase dementia diagnosis rates to identify people with memory problems so we can find ways to support them.”

Mr Gardener explained that the NHS reorganisation hopes to work with local authorities - like Derbyshire County Council - to provide training for staff and management in care homes and stressed there is still very much a need to continue to provide support for those who have already been diagnosed.

Social housing group Future Homescape and Age UK have joined forces to hold Memory Lane therapy sessions at Amber Valley community centres over six months from February for older residents concerned about memory loss, confusion and dementia. The sessions include old-fashioned RemPod rooms, music, arts and activities.

Those interested can call Age UK advisers on (01773) 768240 or the Homescope team on (01773) 573100 for details.

The Alzheimer’s Society is also running a programme to educate one million people to become Dementia Friends by 2015.