The government has announced a £90 million package to improve dementia diagnosis and care.
A World Dementia Envoy has also been appointed, following December’s G8 summit, to raise funds for research towards a cure.
British businesses have also signed up to the cause with over 190,000 staff at M&S, Argos, Homebase, Lloyds Bank and Lloyds Pharmacy to learn to support customers who have dementia.
NHS England will invest £90 million in diagnosing two thirds of people with dementia by March 2015.
The organisation will also work with local areas where we know that in some it takes up to 25 weeks to carry out diagnostic assessments whereas in others the wait is as little as six weeks on average.
People diagnosed with dementia and their carers will also be able to sign up to a new service on the NHS Choices website to get essential help and advice in the early stages of their condition.
Sixty thousand staff at Marks & Spencer, 70,000 Lloyds Pharmacy employees, 50,000 staff at Home Retail Group – which owns Argos and Homebase – and 11,500 customer facing staff at Lloyds Bank will learn to understand what dementia is, how it can affect a person’s ability to do day to day things and how they can help make a difference.
On top of the 60,000 people who have already signed up to the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends programme, this will bring the total number of Dementia Friends to over 250,000.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:” Today's package is about government, clinicians, business, society and investors coming together to raise our game on every front – from speedy diagnosis to compassionate care, and from help on our high streets to the quest for a cure.
“To have variation in diagnosis rates from a few weeks to close to six months is totally unacceptable and I am pleased that the NHS England have agreed to address this within the funding they have available.”
Alistair Burns, NHS England’s national clinical director for dementia, said: “Getting a diagnosis of dementia means that the patient can start getting the right treatment, care and support that they and their carers need – so the quicker the assessment happens, the better. That’s why we are helping the NHS to work out the number of people with dementia in their local area, working with those areas taking the longest time to assess their patients and giving them the support to improve so that people waiting for dementia assessments get them in an average of six weeks.”
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Today's announcement is a positive step forward to increasing diagnosis rates and ensuring that no matter where you live you will receive a timely assessment.
“We welcome the focus on post-diagnosis support which will provide a vital life-line to thousands who are currently left in the dark, with nowhere to turn for advice or support. Everyone with dementia should have the opportunity to access a dementia advisor - someone who can focus on their needs throughout their journey with dementia.”