Dementia cases rising in England

The steep rise in dementia in England is presenting a significant challenge to health and care services, yet the condition is still given low priority, according to a study by the British National Audit Office (NAO).

According to the study's authors:

  • Predictions indicate that dementia cases will rise from at least 560,000 at present to more than 750,000 by 2020 and 1.4 million by 2051.

  • Yet the United Kingdom lags behind the rest of Europe, falling into the bottom third of countries providing patients with effective drugs and taking up to twice as long on average to diagnose the illness as other countries.

    The failure to diagnose dementia properly and early enough costs the NHS money, partly because sufferers are not given the right care when admitted to hospital for something else and then stay longer than necessary, says the report. Overall:

  • The NAO calculated that, for elderly people admitted to acute hospitals with a hip fracture alone, identifying those with dementia and managing their care and discharge properly could save up to £10 million (about U.S. $13.6 million) nationally.

  • Dementia costs the economy £14.3 billion (about R204.5 billion) a year, including direct costs to the NHS and social care of £3.3 billion (about R47 billion) and a notional cost in time of more than £5.2 billion (about R74.4 billion) spent by the 476,000 informal careers in England.

    Source: Lucy Ward, Health service must act to tackle rise in dementia, says watchdog, The Guardian, July 4, 2007.

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    For more on International Issues:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 10 July 2007
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