Alzheimer’s Research UK has issued several recommendations for party leaders to tackle the increasing pressures that dementia has on society, the NHS and the economy.
The recommendations issued in a report, Tipping Point: The Future of Dementia, follow new NHS figures showing that one in three people living with dementia in England never receive a formal diagnosis.
In England, “more than a third of over-65s living with dementia never get a diagnosis at all,” said Samantha Benham-Hermetz, executive director, policy, communications, at Alzheimer’s Research UK.
The report highlights a discrepancy between people in different regions: 53% of people living with dementia in Hertfordshire and Worcestershire will be diagnosed, compared to 73% in South Yorkshire, due to the limited availability of diagnostic tests and doctors’ reluctance to offer people a diagnosis.
Diagnoses are usually given after a lumbar puncture procedure; however, an estimated 2% of people are offered such tests.
Alzheimer’s Research UK underlines how political parties can commit to boosting the number of people who receive lumbar puncture tests on the NHS from 2,000 to 20,000 per year.
To achieve this, a £16m investment into diagnostic infrastructure, equipment, and workforce training will be required, followed by an additional sustained annual investment of £10m until new diagnostic tools are ready to replace lumbar puncture tests.
Backed by the trustee of Alzheimer’s Research UK and OBE, Divya Manek, the charity’s recommendations aim to transform the way dementia is prevented and treated, as well as find a cure.
“It’s time for decision-makers to listen and take action,” said Manek.
The report recommends creating a cross-governmental strategy for the prevention of ill health to address the health and lifestyle of dementia. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) should consider the cost of informal care and carer quality of life when assessing cost-effectiveness. Lastly, it encourages an increase in clinical research participation across the UK.
Manek said: “By prioritising action on dementia, there is a significant opportunity for policymakers to improve societal wellbeing and lifelong health, reducing the burden on our NHS and most importantly, building a legacy where people with dementia no longer have to suffer.”