New figures from the Alzheimer's Society show that, in some parts of the Midlands, just one in three people with dementia is being diagnosed with the condition. The charity says it's disappointing that the number of cases being spotted varies so greatly between different parts of the region.
The Society says there are nearly 130,000 people in the Midlands with the condition. But it estimates that only around 44% have received a formal diagnosis. The charity has produced an interactive map to show the wide variations in diagnosis rates across the country. It suggests that rates vary from 60% in Leicester to just 33% in Herefordshire.
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer's Society said: "This goes against best clinical practice and is preventing people with dementia from accessing the support, benefits and the medical treatments that can help them live well with the condition. Studies show that an early diagnosis can save the taxpayer thousands of pounds, because it can delay someone needing care outside of their own home. The NHS has already made a commitment to improving diagnosis rates but more needs to be done to ensure people with dementia are able to live as well as possible with the disease."
Karen Froy, from Alvaston in Derby, says she spent years trying to get a diagnosis for her elderly mother, Edith Robinson, from Brighton. She died in a care home in 2010 after years of deterioration. Mrs Froy says her mother's behaviour became more erratic, she lost weight, and she even went to hospital saying she needed help. But, she claims, medical staff dismissed Mrs Robinson's condition as "attention-seeking".
She told ITV Central, "That diagnosis is so important and I'm sure Mum wouldn't have gone through the horrific times she did if she had an early diagnosis, because I could have helped her."
Today, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "It's time for the worst performing areas to wake up to the dementia time bomb. While many areas do excellent work, the worst is diagnosing just a third of people with dementia - delaying vital treatment and causing unnecessary suffering."
Despite the worrying figures, the number of people being diagnosed is actually going up. Last year, the diagnosis rate in the Midlands was under 41%