Weir presses government to prioritise early diagnosis to improve dementia care

DUP Peer, Lord Weir of Ballyholme has pressed the Government on dementia services provision throughout the United Kingdom in oral questions at the House of Lords Question Time

By Lord Weir of Ballyholme Peer

Speaking afterwards he said,

"With an ever aging population, the various conditions that constitute dementia will sadly become more and more prevalent in our society. This will increase pressures on an already stretched Health and Social Care Service, but continue to have a devastating effect of an increasing number of sufferers and their families, who face a progressive and often heart-breaking condition with currently no cure. However, as has been reported this summer, there is much hope for the future in terms of treatment, with new treatments on the cusp such as lecanemab and donanemab, which will not providing a cure for these dreadful conditions, crate the very real prospect of slowing down the progression of conditions such as Alzheimer's.

Should such advances in medical science prove successful it is critical that Governments across the UK are well enough prepared to take full advantage for the maximum number of families.

The recent report of the Alzheimer's Society - Improving access to a timely and accurate diagnosis of dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland shows that there is much still to be done and should be the focus of our collective efforts. It highlights the need for more joined thinking and approach across all government departments and across UK jurisdictions, it recommends an increase in consistent training for health care staff to an appropriate and better investment in services to help prevent a costly dementia crisis.

Above all, Government needs to take more steps to improve early and better diagnosis of dementia conditions. If we are to take best advantage of new medical procedures and drugs, then the earliest intervention with dementia sufferers is critical. Failure to provide that early diagnosis will mean for many they are too late in their condition to be able to respond effectively to new treatments. Government needs to ramp up public messaging to encourage people to seek a diagnosis and remove stigmas around the conditions. They need to ensure that all diagnoses of dementia should be delivered with information on the person's specific dementia subtype to enable focus on the right treatment. Peri-diagnostic support should be integrated into patient's pathways so that diagnosis is the beginning not the end of support, and health services should plan for the introduction of blood-based biomarkers to facilitate people suffering from dementia are best placed to take advantage of new treatments and drugs.

It is only with this basket of measures, focusing on early and better diagnosis and applied in a joined-up way through all jurisdictions of the UK, that we can provide the best support for people, and it is crucially up to Government to provide the lead by creating this step change in prioritisation."

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