Britain’s Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has promised a revolution in dementia care. According to the secretary, sufferers of this condition will be offered a diagnosis within a six-week period, rather than the current six month wait. He has stated that by March 2015 this process should be in place.
Mr Hunt feels that there are too many individuals who fear they are suffering from the early stages of dementia, but are pushed into enduring further anxiety because of the long waiting periods. In certain parts of the country, patients have to wait six months for a diagnosis, but Mr Hunt wants the entire to reach a point where the average diagnostic time is not more than six weeks.
Jeremy Hunt made these commitments whilst at a Parisian summit where he praised the scientific advances which have been made in the introduction of predictive tests for this type of condition. He stated that Britain should strive to follow the model of care offered by the French, where family medical practitioners are able to detect signs of the condition, with memory clinics available to ensure the rapid diagnosis and treatment procedures.
He has approached large businesses, such as Marks & Spencer, Homebase, Lloyds and Argos to employ in excess of 120,000 staff members for training to support customers suffering with the disease. This will bring the total number of volunteers in this field to 250,000.
Although there are still some general practitioners who do not see the worth of a dementia diagnosis, Mr Hunt believes that an early diagnosis could mean medication to stop the disease in its tracks. In the UK, one in three people may develop dementia, however, of the 670000 individuals who suffer from the disease, only 50% will receive a relevant diagnosis.
Neurologists from the Paris Institute of Translational Neurosciences have done 3D brain scans of those suffering from dementia. It is a hope that this effective brain mapping process will lead to tests that could result in the prediction of the likelihood of an individual suffering from this horrific disease in the future.
Image credit: Tim Samoff