The Department of Health has published a “dementia atlas”, showing areas of the UK where dementia patients are in need of improved NHS care.
Critics have said that the map revealed a “postcode lottery” for NHS care of chronic and degenerative brain disease.
The map demonstrates that the standards of care can vary from region to region, with some areas failing to deliver yearly check-ups for half of their patients.
The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said the data would “shine a spotlight” on the regions with the poorest services, enabling the government to push improvements where they are most needed.
However, Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, has blamed NHS management for the discrepancies.
“This is yet more evidence of the NHS and the care system on its knees. We are the sixth largest economy in the world and yet we are letting down very vulnerable people in a completely unacceptable way”, he said.
“How can we tolerate allowing people who have worked hard all their lives to be let down in this way in their hour of need? We need a new long-term settlement for the NHS and care so that we can guarantee people with dementia and others the care they need, when they need it.”
George McNamara, head of policy and public affairs at Alzheimer’s Society, has said that dementia should be taken care of in the community before it reaches crisis point.
He said: “The atlas exposes varied care, with some areas reporting much higher numbers of emergency hospital admissions. We must urgently explore why people with dementia’s needs are escalating to this point and what can be done in the community to prevent crisis admissions among this vulnerable group.
“It’s currently easier to find out about your hospital’s finances than the quality of dementia care they provide.”
There are around 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, with many of them needing better care than what the NHS are offering.
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