Parliamentary Report on Dementia Diagnosis

Published on 09/07/2012

RICE Director Professor Roy Jones spoke on Radio Bristol about dementia diagnosis in the South West, in response to the latest report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia – Unlocking Diagnosis. He confirmed that the RICE Memory Clinic in Bath had an obligation to see everyone within four weeks of being referred, with most being seen sooner; however in other areas the wait can be much longer.

His concern is that the report is a little simplistic regarding the complexity of diagnosing dementia,

“It isn’t as if one day you don’t have dementia and the next day you do; there is a grey area from when minor changes are first noticed, to more significant changes. Often individuals and their families are not aware of what is happening and it’s very difficult for a doctor to identify during one visit what can be quite subtle developments. Also the problems are not always due to dementia; there could be some other medical reason such as depression and it’s important that we don’t tell people they have dementia until we’re sure. Diagnosis is a case of putting together the pattern of the problems over a period of time: there is no quick test”

“Early diagnosis is important so that people start to be aware of why they are having problems and it gives them and their family time to plan for the future. There are drug treatments available to help them manage and there are practical things they can do to improve their quality of life.”

Published this week, the cross-party report comments on the huge variations across the UK in the time it takes to get a diagnosis for dementia - ranging from a few weeks to over a year. One of the main priorities in the Prime Minister's National Dementia challenge for England is to improve diagnosis times but a leading expert told the MPs that in most places "nothing much" was happening.

The five minute interview can be heard in BBC Radio Bristol link (start time 51mins 30 secs)

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