Health: Choosing where to live can mean better care in old age

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If you plan to grow old, choose carefully where you live. Having the right postcode could mean the difference between comfort and calamity if dementia sets in.

The amount spent per person on people with dementia ranges from pounds 572 in one West Midlands health authority to pounds 1,801 in a Home Counties health authority, according to a survey.

The size of the variation, disclosed by the Alzheimer's Disease Society (ADS), makes a mockery of the notion of a health service providing equal access for all its citizens.

One London health authority spends 23 times more on day care per person with dementia in one of the three boroughs it covers than another. In the top spending borough, the figure is pounds 650 per head, compared with pounds 28 in the lowest.

Harry Cayton, chief executive of ADS, said: "This begs serious questions about the overall accountability, transparency and equality of treatment in what is a publicly funded service."

Reasons for the variations include the higher costs of delivering services in rural areas and the higher costs of property in the towns. The report says these do not explain differences between authorities in similar areas.