To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to (a) increase public and health professionals' awareness of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and (b) promote the early diagnosis of that disease.
Raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of dementia and improving early diagnosis is a key part of the Dementia 2020 Challenge.
Through the Dementia Friends initiative, we are raising awareness and understanding among the wider public to ensure that people are supported to live well with the condition. There are now almost 2.5 million Dementia Friends.
As part of the NHS health check programme, people aged 65 to 74 are provided with information on the signs and symptoms of dementia, the availability of memory services in their locality, as well as on health and lifestyle factors which may increase the risk of developing dementia.
Awareness and recognition of the symptoms of dementia is one of the areas covered in the Dementia Core Skills Education and Training Framework, which sets out the skills and knowledge required by all staff working with people with dementia in health and social care settings.
Health professionals are responsible for ensuring their own clinical knowledge remains up-to-date by taking account of new research and developments in guidance, such as that produced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to ensure that they can continue to provide high quality care to all patients. NICE has published a guideline on the assessment, management and support of people living with dementia and their carers, which was updated in June 2018, and which contains recommendations to assist diagnosis.
NHS England has set a national ambition for dementia diagnosis which was achieved in November 2015. NHS England continues to monitor progress to ensure that the ambition is maintained and addresses variations at a local level through the provision of intensive support.
Dementia diagnosis rates are included in the clinical commissioning group (CCG) Improvement and Assessment Framework, which enables CCGs to assess their performance and deliver longer-term improvements to dementia diagnosis services.