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Local authorities in England are failing to meet dementia diagnosis targets

The APPG has called for urgent improvements in rural and ethnically diverse-areas

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on dementia has revealed that over 50% of local authorities in England are failing to meet the national dementia diagnosis target and has called for urgent improvement.

The Alzheimer’s Society and cross-party MPs are calling for a levelling up of diagnosis rates and urgent improvements in rural and ethnically diverse areas to speed up and improve the accuracy of dementia diagnosis.

According to the report, thousands of people in the UK are living without a diagnosis for dementia, a progressive neurodegenerative condition that affects the cognitive function of the brain.

According to NHS figures, diagnosis rates show over a 40%-point difference between the highest and lowest areas in England.

The APPG responded to the disparity, calling for better data to understand how factors, including brain scanner availability, transport access, deprivation, rurality and ethnicity, all play a part.

Based on findings from over 2,100 people living with dementia in England, transport was recognised as a major barrier to diagnosis.

The APPG has recommended that integrated care systems in England increase service provision so people can receive a diagnosis closer to their homes.

The report also suggested that ethnic minorities were struggling to access diagnostic assessments in their own language, ultimately affecting their chances of receiving a timely dementia diagnosis.

In response to this, the APPG has called for the earliest possible adoption of blood-based biomarker tests to reduce the need for expensive and scarce brain scans.

The Alzheimer’s Society and the National Institute for Health and Care Research recently launched a £4.5m Blood Biomarker Challenge to help implement a blood test for dementia in UK healthcare systems.

Fiona Carragher, director, research and influencing, at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Improvement is possible, but we need more tailored services across the country and better local planning by Integrated Care Systems to help bridge the gap and reach underserved communities.”