Northumberland dementia patients miss out on vital care reviews

People living with dementia in Northumberland missed out on potentially vital care reviews they were entitled to last year, figures suggest.

By Federica Bedendo
Friday, 21st January 2022, 2:19 pm
Scores of dementia patients have missed out on vital care reviews.

NHS guidance states dementia patients’ mental and physical wellbeing should be re-assessed in a face-to-face review every 12 months, as they are more likely to suffer from depression and less likely to report physical problems.

Charity Alzheimer’s Society warned outdated care plans may increase the chances of those living with dementia being rushed to hospital for issues that could have been prevented with good care, such as falls and infections.

Figures from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities show 1,040 dementia patients in the NHS Northumberland CCG area had their care plan reassessed in the year to March – 34% of those with a diagnosis.

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This was a sharp drop from 2019-20, when 75% of patients received a dementia care review.

Across England, the proportion of those receiving a care review dropped dramatically, from 75% in 2019-20 to 40% last year.

Gavin Terry, head of policy at the Alzheimer’s Society said: “This drastic drop in the number of people with dementia getting their care plans reviewed over the past two years is yet more evidence of just how badly hit they have been by the Covid pandemic.

"Despite the best efforts of our brilliant NHS and care staff, people with dementia have seen their routine care continually paused and people with dementia had the highest death rate from Covid."

The figures also show that across England, the rate of people living with a dementia diagnosis has also dropped, from 0.79% of those registered with a GP in 2019-20, to 0.71% in 2020-21.

The prevalence among people of all ages across Northumberland was 0.93% in 2020-21, lower than 1.03% in 2019-20.

The Alzheimer’s Society is calling on the government to increase funding to decrease the backlog of people waiting for a formal diagnosis.

Mr Terry said: "We know the pandemic has prevented tens of thousands of people from getting an all-important dementia diagnosis.

"We’re calling for urgent action from the government, so people can access the vital support and treatments a diagnosis brings."

The government said it was investing £375 million for neurodegenerative disease research – including for dementia – over the next five years.