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6th July 2015

Dementia care 'patchy' – concern over gaps in services filled by family and friends

A survey of GPs by the Alzheimer's Society has revealed that GPs think support for people diagnosed with dementia is patchy, leaving family and friends to create a support network where services are inadequate.

The survey of 1,000 GPs showed widespread concern over levels of care offered by the NHS and social services across the UK.

The Royal College of GPs says until the situation improves, doctors will have to weigh up whether there is any advantage in early diagnosis. 

Some GPs surveyed felt there weren't enough local services to help their patients. And when these services were not available, a quarter of doctors warned they would be less likely to refer a person with suspected dementia to specialists to make a firm diagnosis.

Prof Nigel Mathers, of the Royal College of GPs, called for improvements in the "patchy provision of support services in some areas".

He warned: "Until this can be delivered to all patients, regardless of where they live in the country, GPs will have to continue weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of early diagnosis."

The Alzheimer's Society, the charity that commissioned the survey, said the GPs' answers revealed a "deeply worrying lack of support available from health and social services, with relatives left to pick up the pieces alone".

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at the society, added: "People can need a lot of help to live well with dementia. Families and friends are a vital source of support but they mustn't be relied on to do everything."

Read the full story

BBC News: GPs say patchy services fail patients

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