More than a third of patients had to wait more than six weeks to access memory tests after being referred by a GP
More than a third of patients had to wait more than six weeks to access memory tests after being referred by a GP

Elderly patients wait up to a year for dementia tests

More than a third of patients had to wait more than six weeks to access memory tests after being referred by a GP

Charlie Cooper
Friday 19 July 2013 00:13
Comments

Elderly patients are waiting up to a year for a dementia diagnosis and face delays getting the help they need, even after diagnosis, an investigation has revealed.

More than a third of patients had to wait more than six weeks to access memory tests after being referred by a GP – the maximum waiting time recommended by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Some patients in Wiltshire were forced to wait up to 12 months for diagnosis due to a backlog of cases and delays to CT scans.

Senior GPs called the delays “unacceptable” and the Alzheimer’s Society described the findings, obtained by GP Magazine through Freedom of Information requests, as “shocking”.

The magazine obtained figures from 145 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), finding evidence of a “postcode lottery” for dementia care, with waiting times in some areas as low as a week. “Many people are forced to wait too long to receive treatment and support when diagnosed with dementia. It’s shocking and unacceptable that a year on from highlighting the problem, we are still seeing disparities in dementia services,” an Alzheimer’s Society spokesman said.

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the BMA’s GPs Committee, said: “Waiting for this length of time with the fear of dementia hanging over you is unacceptable. We warned NHS England and the Department of Health about this, and have repeatedly pointed out that the important area to focus on is not what happens in general practice but the lack of capacity of memory services and support services once a diagnosis has been made.”

In Wiltshire, the local CCG has more than doubled funding for 2013/14 to address the long delays. A spokesman said the aim was to clear the backlog of cases by late September. Professor Alistair Burns, national clinical director for dementia at NHS England, admitted there was “still too much variation” in waiting times for memory assessments. He said: “We are working closely with partner organisations on a number of work programmes that will help support CCGs to improve access to services and the quality of care and support for people with dementia.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in