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GP ‘dementia ambassadors’ tasked with improving diagnosis

13 October 2014

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Seven dementia ‘ambassadors’ spread across the UK have been tasked with helping GPs use the best methods to diagnose more people. 

The ambassadors will offer one-to-one support to clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to help boost their expertise. 

Their work will include providing one to one support to CCGs, sharing learning and best practice, providing tools, resources and guidance.

Last week NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens announced a £5 million funding boost to help GPs increase identification of people with the illness. 

NHS England hope that two-thirds of people with dementia will receive a diagnosis along with high quality post diagnostic support by 2015. 

The seven, who are based in London, the south, the north, the midlands, and Scotland, will be helping local GPs in England to use the best possible methods to diagnose more people.

Dr Sunil Gupta, Dr Nick  Cartmell, Dr David Findlay, Dr Elizabeth Barrett, Deborah Cohen, Dr Daniel Harwood, Dr Paul Twomey are NHS England’s new network of clinical advisors or ‘ambassadors’, and are experts in dementia care from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Dr Sunil Gupta, a GP in Essex and Clinical Advisor for Dementia for Midlands and East, has written to GPs in his area with the top ten reasons to make a timely diagnosis of dementia.

He said: “While some GPs may be sceptical about the benefits of diagnosing a patient with dementia, a timely diagnosis can make a significant difference to the quality of a patient’s life and the support they and their carer receives.

“A timely diagnosis can enable the patient to receive the correct treatment, make decisions about their future and receive appropriate financial benefits. It can also help in research looking for better treatments for dementia in the future as well as help to ensure there are sufficient services for patients with dementia in an area.

“I really hope as an ambassador I can help to spread these important messages, reduce the stigma about dementia and really improve life for more patients.”

Professor Alistair Burns, the National Clinical Director for Dementia in NHS England, said: “Awareness of dementia is at its highest. We want it to be normal to talk about memory problems and to encourage people to come forward for an assessment if they or their families have concerns. 

“We know that only around half of people with dementia receive a formal diagnosis.  We believe that timely diagnosis of dementia allows people to access the emotional, practical and financial support that brings. 

“It is a real privilege to be working with our new ambassadors who because of their experience and commitment to the field of dementia, will really be able to provide evidence based support to colleagues to bring about meaningful and tangible changes to the lives of people with dementia and their carers.”