Yesterday, in Health and Social Care Oral Parliamentary Questions, former Health Minister, Dame Caroline Dinenage DBE MP asked the Minister for Care and Mental Health, Gillian Keegan, what the Government is doing to ensure that people living with dementia get on the right care pathway and for the Government to improve access to appointments so that dementia can be diagnosed as early as possible.
Supporting people living with Dementia is something that is very close to Caroline’s heart and she has been a Dementia Friend Champion for a number of years. Caroline works closely with local groups to ensure that Gosport is a Dementia Friendly area.
“Timely and accurate diagnosis is really important in ensuring that people living with dementia get on the right care and support pathway. A lot of my constituents are really struggling to get face to face appointments that are so crucial in that.
“What is my Honourable Friend doing to ensure that GP’s in my local area are equipped to recruit and to train and to be resourced to get those early diagnoses in place?”
Responding to Caroline’s question, Gillian Keegan MP, Minister for Care and Mental Health said:
“My Honourable Friend is absolutely right. We had been meeting our dementia diagnosis targets consistently at the national level from July 2016 until the end of March 2020, when obviously we all know what happened. The diagnosis rate dropped below our target for the first time in almost four years and reflects the impact that the pandemic had on our memory assessment services and GP referrals into these services.
“In the last financial year we allocated £17 million to specifically address dementia waiting lists and increase the number of diagnoses. This was spent in a range of ways including in investing in workforce to increase capacity in memory assessment services and improving access to pre and post diagnostic support.”
Speaking afterwards Caroline said:
“It concerns me that we are not yet at pre-pandemic levels for Dementia diagnosis. It’s vital we get the right support in place as early as possible and there’s no real substitute for face to face GP appointments. Yet local GPs are struggling to recruit and retain staff. I will keep pushing for progress on these important issues.”