In the light of figures on dementia diagnosis rates in Cambridgeshire unveiled this month, I am seeking to raise the profile of the illness in my constituency and drive up diagnosis rates.
Figures released by the Alzheimer’s Society show that only 41 per cent of people living with dementia in Cambridgeshire PCT area have received a formal diagnosis.
This compares with a diagnosis rate of 75 per cent in the best performing PCT, and a national average of 45 per cent.
This means that in Cambridgeshire it is estimated that 4,560 people are living with undiagnosed dementia and without the treatment and support that could help them to cope better.
Whilst the heath and care system has a central role to play in improving diagnosis rates of dementia it cannot combat the problem alone.
Lack of awareness amongst the public and poor understanding in communities has a major impact on non-diagnosis.
If dementia is diagnosed early, people with dementia and their carers can receive treatment and support to help them live well with the condition. Too often, however, diagnosis comes too late – during a crisis or beyond the point where people can plan for the future and make informed choices about how they would like to be cared for.
Tackling dementia is a key priority for the Government and, as such, they are helping to fund an ambitious new project by the Alzheimer’s Society which aims to educate one million people across the UK about dementia so they can become ‘Dementia Friends’ by 2015.
I have signed up and I urge you to do the same at www.dementiafriends.org.uk.
Together I believe that we can make life better for people with dementia and their carers. One day I am confident that research will help us to slow, stop and even prevent the condition, but for now a concerted effort to drive up diagnosis rates will start to make a real difference to people’s lives.
Rt. Hon. Jim Paice
South East Cambs MP