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Welsh dementia diagnosis rate stalls

Published 29 November 2013

Less than 40 per cent of people with dementia in Wales currently receive a diagnosis.

Recent figures have shown a 0.3 per cent* increase in the number of people in Wales with dementia that receive a diagnosis, raising the number of people who now have a formal diagnosis to almost 39 per cent*. However, this means there could still be another 27,868 people in Wales who are living with the condition but who are not diagnosed. 

According to figures reported as part of the Quality and Outcomes Framework, Wales has the lowest national diagnosis rate in the UK. Improving diagnosis rates and ensuring people have access to support is one of Alzheimer's Society's key campaigns. Without a diagnosis, people with dementia are unable to access valuable support, information and potential treatments.

Alzheimer's Society is now calling on health and social care bodies across Wales to set dementia as a local priority and for best practice to be shared. It is also calling on wider society to help make their community more dementia supportive in order to help reduce stigma and ensure people with dementia are supported and feel included. 

Sue Phelps, Director of Alzheimer's Society in Wales, said: 

'Over 45,000 people in Wales face daily challenges whilst living with dementia. It's disgraceful to think nearly two thirds of them have an added fight, to get a diagnosis. The fact that people are left struggling with uncertainty and no support for months is simply unacceptable. 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 providers in Wales to ensure we help drive diagnosis rates up and ensure people with dementia receive the best support possible.'

Adrian Harrhy from Pontypool was diagnosed with dementia in 2007 at the age of 58. He'd begun having tests when he was 50 so his diagnosis came as a relief. Adrian's wife Cherry said:

'When Adrian was diagnosed with dementia he felt at last that he knew what it was and he had to deal with the illness.'

Speaking about his dementia Adrian said:

'This won't beat me. I will carry on and live every day to the full as long as I can. I'll be positive and keep busy. When I had my diagnosis I was glad to have my wife by my side as well as my daughter, niece and friends.'

Alzheimer's Society works with both GPs and the public to increase awareness and understanding about diagnosis. It's 'Worried About Your Memory?' campaign distributed leaflets about dementia to more than 10,000 GP surgeries around the UK. The Dementia Community Roadshow is also travelling across the UK offering free information and advice to anyone with queries about the condition, as well as helping to promote the benefits of an early diagnosis

If you are worried about your own, or someone else's memory, Alzheimer's Society recommends that people speak to their GP. The Alzheimer's Society Helpline is also available on 0300 222 1122. To find out more about services in Wales visit alzheimers.org.uk/wales.

* Diagnosis rates are from the government's QOF (Qualities and Outcomes Framework) data for 2012-13, which is the number of people registered with GPs as living with dementia. Dementia prevalence rates are from the 2007 Dementia UK report.