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Northern Ireland leads way in diagnosing dementia

Figures released today show that Northern Ireland has amongst the best diagnosis rates in the UK for dementia.
Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Minister Poots has welcomed the news saying: “Northern Ireland has one of the highest rates of diagnosis in the UK, along with Scotland. Two of our local HSC Trusts (Belfast and Western) were in fact the 1st and 5th best ranked areas respectively for rates of diagnosis across the whole of the UK.”

The figures, from the Alzheimer’s Society study entitled ‘Mapping the Dementia Gap’, show that Northern Ireland has a diagnosis rate of 63% (11’800 people) which is just marginally below Scotland (64.4%) and well above the UK average of 46%.

The Minister added: “The Alzheimer’s Society study indicates that we appear to be more complete than the other countries in terms of our recording of dementia. Fundamentally, higher recording means that people’s needs are being recognised by GPs, and that is something which we all should welcome.

“Early diagnosis for people with dementia is vitally important and I would like to commend GPs and Health & Social Care staff here in Northern Ireland for striving to identify and diagnosis those people living with dementia. I would stress however, that we must continue to improve these rates as there are still nearly 40% of people without a diagnosis.

“The regional dementia strategy, which I published in November 2011, addresses the importance of early diagnosis and identifies the need to draw up criteria and clear protocols for referral from GPs to memory services for diagnosis. We are continuing work to implement the strategy to achieve such aims.”

The Minister concluded saying: “I would also support the message from the Alzheimer’s Society for people to seek help and advice early, from their GP or the Society themselves, should they be concerned about dementia.”

Notes to editors:

1. Diagnosis rates for Northern Ireland are from the government's QOF (Qualities and Outcomes Framework) data for 2011-12, which shows the number of people known to GPs as living with dementia.

2. Not all persons reported as having dementia on the QOF will currently need significant treatment

3. Mapping the Dementia Gap, which was produced by Alzheimer's Society, Alzheimer's Scotland and Tesco, can be accessed via the Alzheimer’s Society website.

4. The Alzheimer’s Society has also been working with Tesco to run a Dementia Roadshow which has toured the UK, and they will be touring throughout Northern Ireland from 15 January to 22 February. Details are available on the Alzheimer’s Society website

5. Media enquiries to the DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0505. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Office via pager number on 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.