Concern over dementia waiting times

There are “huge disparities” in the care people with dementia receive depending on where they live, research suggests.

Many people in England who suffer from the condition are waiting too long to receive a formal diagnosis and access dementia services once diagnosed, according to a GP magazine investigation.

Some patients are waiting for up to a year for a diagnosis from a specialist memory service, even though the Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends that patients should wait no longer than six weeks, the magazine said.

A formal diagnosis allows patients with dementia to access NHS treatment and support.

Diagnosis delays can increase anxiety among patients and families and heap pressure on GPs, the Alzheimer’s Society said.

GP magazine found that in 37 out of 97 clinical commissioning groups (CCG) – regional bodies which commission many healthcare services across England – patients waited more than six weeks.

In Wiltshire, patients waited up to 12 months in 2012/13 because of a backlog in cases and delays to CT scans, the magazine said.

Ten other of the local health bodies had waiting times of more than 12 weeks.

George McNamara, head of public affairs and policy at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We have known for a while that many people are forced to wait too long to receive treatment and support when diagnosed with dementia. It’s shocking and unacceptable that a year on from highlighting the problem, we are still seeing disparities in dementia services.

“With GPs increasingly being encouraged to spot the signs of dementia in their patients, it’s vital that ongoing support is in place for those once diagnosed too. More investment into memory clinics is needed to help them provide a consistently effective service; gaining accreditation and maintaining acceptable waiting times.

“The NHS has already made a commitment to improving diagnosis rates but more needs to be done to ensure people with dementia are getting support at the next stage of their journey.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association’s GPs Committee, told GP magazine: “Waiting for this length of time with the fear of dementia hanging over you is unacceptable.

“Improving these areas would make a real difference to patients with dementia and their carers.”

Professor Alistair Burns, national clinical director for dementia at NHS England, said: “Ensuring that people with dementia receive a timely diagnosis is a key priority for NHS England. We are targeting low diagnosis rates of dementia and have set a national ambition of two-thirds of people with dementia identified and given appropriate support by 2015, an increase from 37% in 2010 and the current average of around 45%.

“Across the country, there is still too much variation in length of waits for memory assessment services.

“We are working closely with partner organisations including the Department of Health, Public Health England and the British Medical Association on a number of work programmes that will help support CCGs, who are directly responsible for local commissioning of dementia services, to improve access to services and the quality of care and support for people with dementia.”

Have you experienced delays in your area?

Have you got a health question?

We've teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare to bring you articles, information and tips from their clinical teams on a wide range of health topics. And if you have a question of your own, their, "Ask the Expert" service allows you to ask the team of friendly, experienced nurses, pharmacists and midwives about any health topic and they'll get back to you with an answer as soon as they’re able.* So if you have something that’s been bothering you, whether it concerns you or someone close to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Click below to submit your query online.


* Nurses are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Midwives and pharmacists are available Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm; Saturday, 8am to 4pm; and Sunday, 8am to 12pm.
Actual response time will depend on the nature of your enquiry and availability of appropriately qualified experts but the team will always aim to get back to you within 24 hours.
Please note that our Expert Help services are there to offer health information and support. They do not diagnose or prescribe, and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice given in the context of an individual consultation.


The following two tabs change content below.
Mother of three grown-up daughters I am the ultimate multi-tasker and am passionate about my role as Silversurfers Website Editor and Social Media Manager. Always on the lookout for all things that will interest and entertain our community. Fueling fun for the young at heart!

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!