Bedfordshire dementia patients missing out on "vital" care reviews due to pandemic

Alzheimer’s Society calls on Government to increase funding to help clear backlog

People living with dementia in Bedfordshire missed out on potentially vital care reviews they were entitled to last year, figures suggest.

NHS guidance states dementia patients’ mental and physical wellbeing should be reassessed in a face-to-face review every 12 months, as they are more likely to suffer from depression and less likely to report physical problems.

Charity Alzheimer’s Society warned outdated care plans may increase the chances of those living with dementia being rushed to hospital for issues that could have been prevented with good care, such as falls and infections.

"We know the pandemic has prevented tens of thousands of people from getting an all-important dementia diagnosis"

Figures from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities show 1,482 dementia patients in the NHS Bedfordshire CCG area had their care plan reassessed in the year to March – 45 per cent of those with a diagnosis.

This was a sharp drop from 2019-20, when 70 per cent of patients received a dementia care review.

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Across England, the proportion of those receiving a care review dropped dramatically, from 75 per cent in 2019-20 to 40 per cent last year.

Gavin Terry, head of policy at the Alzheimer’s Society said: “This drastic drop in the number of people with dementia getting their care plans reviewed over the past two years is yet more evidence of just how badly hit they have been by the Covid pandemic.

"Despite the best efforts of our brilliant NHS and care staff, people with dementia have seen their routine care continually paused and people with dementia had the highest death rate from Covid."

The figures also show that across England, the rate of people living with a dementia diagnosis has also dropped, from 0.79 per cent of those registered with a GP in 2019-20, to 0.71 per cent in 2020-21.

The prevalence among people of all ages across Bedfordshire was 0.66 per cent in 2020-21, lower than 0.72 per cent% in 2019-20.

The Alzheimer’s Society is calling on the Government to increase funding to decrease the backlog of people waiting for a formal diagnosis.

Mr Terry said: "We know the pandemic has prevented tens of thousands of people from getting an all-important dementia diagnosis.

"We’re calling for urgent action from the Government, so people can access the vital support and treatments a diagnosis brings."

The Government said it was investing £375 million for neurodegenerative disease research – including for dementia – over the next five years.

A Department for Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "We want a society where every person with dementia, and their families and carers, receive high quality, compassionate care from diagnosis through to end of life.

“Since the start of the pandemic we have committed over £6 billion to councils to support people and tackle the impact of Covid-19 on their services, including adult social care.

"We have also invested an additional £5.4 billon over the next three years to begin a comprehensive reform programme."