Action call over dementia diagnosis backlog

Fewer than two-thirds of people suspected of living with dementia in South Tyneside were given a formal diagnosis last year, new figures show.

Dementia figures action call
Dementia figures action call

NHS England has a target for two-thirds of people suspected of having the condition to be officially diagnosed – but data from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities shows 63.9% of people thought to have dementia in the NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group area were formally diagnosed in 2021.

In South Tyneside 1,238 people were formally diagnosed with dementia – down from 1,406 in 2020.

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Nationally, 415,778 people were formally diagnosed in 2021 – down from 454,599 the year before.

Zena Aldridge, from Dementia UK, said thousands of families are “stuck in limbo” as they wait for a diagnosis and added: "Receiving a diagnosis early enables the person to plan for their future and seek appropriate support.

"We urgently need to address this imbalance by investing in quality dementia specialist care."

Last month, the Government said it will be producing a dementia strategy this year.

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Gavin Terry, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Society, said: "Covid has had a devastating impact on people affected by dementia and we estimate there are around 35,000 people living with the condition who have not been diagnosed.”

Mr Terry urged the Government to publish a "clear recovery plan" and provide cash to tackle the backlog over the next two years.

A Government spokesperson said it recognises the impact Covid-19 has had on dementia diagnosis rates and it has "set out a blueprint to address backlogs built up during the pandemic with an expansion in capacity for tests, checks and treatments."