GP encourages people to confront dementia

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THE challenge was set to increase the number of dementia diagnoses in order to help people sooner.

And it’s one that Portsmouth delivered on and needs to continue the good work.

The Prime Minister’s Challenge was for two-thirds of suspected cases to be diagnosed by 2015.

The GP-led Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group achieved that during 2014.

As of March this year, the city’s diagnosis rate was 72 per cent, which equates to 1,446 people.

Dr Jim Hogan, head of the Portsmouth CCG, said: ‘There has been very good progress in recent years in driving up the rate of dementia diagnosis.

‘We reached the initial 66 per cent target before most other areas and now the 
challenge is to improve further.

‘It’s imperative GPs continue to be vigilant, but it’s important patients, relatives and carers talk to their doctor at an early stage.

‘There is still a stigma surrounding dementia and people are still – understandably – frightened about what it might mean to be diagnosed with the disease.

‘However, if we are able to make an early diagnosis there is a lot the NHS can do to help – both in terms of medication and therapies – and so it is essential people talk to their GP at the earliest possible opportunity.’

It is a move backed by charity the Alzheimer’s Society.

Lucie Debenham, Alzheimer’s Society services manager for Portsmouth, said: ‘We are pleased to be involved in providing services in Portsmouth and are already seeing an improvement in diagnosis rates through improved GP referrals.

‘A diagnosis opens the door on accessing support so should not be underestimated as a part of this package of care.’

The charity conducted a survey among 1,000 GPs and 67 per cent felt their patients were not receiving enough support from health and adult social services, with 77 per cent thinking patients rely on family members.