Less than half of dementia sufferers in Eastbourne, Seaford and Newhaven are given an official diagnosis – meaning they are left facing the condition without medication or expert support.
Figures released this week by the Department of Health shows revealed just 47.1 per cent of people with dementia in the area ever receive a diagnosis. In nearby Hastings and Rother the rate is slightly lower at 44.5 per cent. Both though are dwarfed by the south east’s top rate of 63 per cent and both sit in the bottom half of the region’s diagnosis league table.
Nationally the best diagnosis levels are 75 per cent – with a bottom rate of 32 per cent. The countrywide average is 48 per cent – meaning local figures are below the national average.
The Alzheimer’s Society is now calling on health and social care bodies across England to set dementia as a local priority and for best practice to be shared. It is also calling on members of wider society to help make their community more dementia friendly in order to help reduce stigma and ensure people with dementia are supported to feel included.
Improving diagnosis rates and ensuring people have access to support is one of Alzheimer’s Society’s key campaigns. Earlier this year, David Cameron outlined his ambition for diagnosis rates to reach 66 per cent by 2015 as part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia. However, the latest figures show there continues to be huge variation – with East Sussex still some way off the set targets.
Chris Wyatt, from the Alzheimer’s Society, said, “A diagnosis opens the door to an invaluable helping hand that can enable people with dementia to live a good quality of life and plan for the future. Alzheimer’s Society is committed to working with health and social care to help drive up diagnosis rates and ensure people with dementia receive the immediate and ongoing support they need.”
If any readers are worried about their memory, the Alzheimer’s Society recommends they visit their GP as soon as possible, or call the Alzheimers’ Society’s helpline on 0300 222 1122.