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Top French neurologist: UK may need hundreds more specialists to catch up with France in early dementia diagnosis

Hundreds more specialist doctors may be needed if Britain is to catch up with France in the treatment of patients with dementia.

That was the message from a leading French doctor who told ITV News that having more neurologists explained why France diagnoses far more patients at an early stage of the disease.

Professor Alexis Brice is director general of the Brain and Spine Institute at Paris' Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital which the Health Secretary visited on a fact-finding trip to France.

Early diagnosis is crucial in the treatment of Alzheimer's because otherwise drug treatment is ineffective.

In Britain, less than half of patients get diagnosed early. In France, most now do - thanks to a combination of memory tests, brain scans and other biological tests.

James Murray-White has filmed his mother's battle with the illness. Credit: ITV News

Here, Jeremy Hunt has promised around £90m to help speed up referrals of dementia patients.

Hunt travelled to France ahead of announcing around £90 million in funding. Credit: ITV News

He is also launching an initiative with high street stores such as M&S and Argos to make staff more aware of the needs of dementia patients.

But in an interview with ITV News, he dismissed suggestions that a major recruitment drive was needed for more specialist doctors in the field.