NHS England launches nationwide dementia diagnosis service

A new specialist service is being trialled across the country as part of a renewed effort by the NHS to ensure that more people are being assessed for dementia following the pandemic.

Professor Alistair Burns, NHS England’s national clinical director for dementia, said: “The NHS is determined to ensure those who developed dementia during the pandemic are given a diagnosis as it will open up doors to further support for people and their families who suffer from this heart-breaking disease”.

The NHS is investing £900k to launch two pilots across the seven regions of the UK. The new scheme originates from the NHS Long Term Plan, which committed to providing better support for people with dementia through enhanced community multidisciplinary teams and greater personalised care.

14 new pilot schemes will be rolled out this year which will involve the proactive assessment of care home patients by specialist nurses. The scheme will see GPs sharing a list of care home residents who have not yet received a diagnosis. Staff involved in the pilot will then screen the list for any residents suffering from memory problems and will offer them a full face-to-face assessment.

The trusts taking part in the new ‘dementia diagnosis drive’ are Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NFT; East London NFT; South London and Maudsley NFT; Central North West London Trust; Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Trust; Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care Trust; Humber FT; Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NFT; Cheshire and Wirral Partnership Trust in collaboration with Age UK Wirral; Mersey Care NFT; Oxford Health Foundation Trust, Kent and Medway NHS & Social Care Partnership Trust, NHS Cornwall and Isle of Scilly and Somerset NFT.

In addition to GP collaboration, clinicians will look to review residents’ medication and liaise with their family and friends to assist in determining a dementia diagnosis.

Mark MacDonald, Associate Director of Advocacy and System Change at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Diagnosing dementia is crucial to unlocking the right care and support, so we’re pleased NHS England is prioritising the diagnosis of people in care homes through this initiative.”