Figures reveal thousands have been left waiting for a dementia diagnosis due to the pandemic

The pandemic has had a lasting impact on people living with dementia, with new NHS figures for England revealing that initial assessments and monitoring for dementia has decreased sharply.

Since the start of the pandemic, NHS data reveals that the number of people being assessed for dementia has fallen to less than half the level before the pandemic.

The figures show that only 10,535 patients were assessed in February of this year, compared to 23,392 in February of 2020.

ACCESS

Speaking to The Guardian, Paul Edwards, director of clinical services at Dementia UK, commented: “When I talk to people with dementia, their families, the absolute lack of contact and support is very apparent, and accessing things like GPs has been a challenge.

“One of the big problems for us is this diagnostic backlog. We have got thousands of people waiting for diagnosis, which is a very difficult time obviously for families and people with dementia, but what we don’t know yet is exactly how the services are going to get those people through.”

Similarly, the figures highlight a significant decrease in the number of referrals to memory clinics has fallen by 42 per cent.

This is a significant and alarming figure as memory clinics are utilised to help diagnose dementia.

Unfortunately, figures show that it is not just diagnosing dementia that has been affected. 

MONITORING

Care monitoring for those diagnosed with dementia has also fallen. The number of patients who received a medication review in the last 12 months has fallen by 55 per cent between February 2020 and February 2021.

Furthermore, only 37 per cent of dementia patients received a care plan or annual care plan since the start of the pandemic compared to 73 per cent of patients in February of 2020.

It is evident more needs to be done to better support people awaiting a dementia diagnosis and those living with the condition. 

If you are concerned about a loved one or your own health charities including Dementia UK and the Alzheimer’s Society can help.

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