The Alzheimer's Society has produced an interactive map highlighting the variation in dementia diagnosis across the UK.
It's disgraceful that more than half of all people with dementia are not receiving a diagnosis, and disappointing to see such a disparity in diagnosis rates in different regions of the UK.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.
– Jeremy Hughes, chief executive, Alzheimer's Society
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.
As with cancer in the past, too many health and care professionals are not aware of the symptoms.
Some even believe that without effective cure there's no point putting people through the anxiety of a memory test - even though drugs can help stave off the condition for several years.
It is this grim fatalism that we need to shake off. Not just within our health service but across society as a whole.
It can be a total nightmare getting a diagnosis - and the result is that, shockingly, only 46% of all dementia cases are identified.
Yet with access to the right drugs and support for a partner, someone can live happily and healthily at home for much longer. We should be ashamed that we deny this to so many people in today's NHS.
The Health Secretary's comments come as the Alzheimer's Society warned that dementia sufferers are facing a postcode lottery of diagnosis rates.
It released data suggesting that in some areas of the UK, as few as one in three people suffering from the condition will receive a formal diagnosis, while in other areas three quarters of sufferers will be told by a doctor about their condition.
- Across the UK just 46% of sufferers were diagnosed in 2012
The charity said that while the latest figure is an improvement on the previous year, there are still thought to be 428,500 people in the UK who have the condition but have not been diagnosed.
- Diagnosis rates were best in Scotland where 64.4% of of suffers were told about their condition
- In Wales, just 38.5% of sufferers formally received a diagnosis in 2012
- 44.2% of people with the condition in England were diagnosed
- With 63% in Northern Ireland.
The Health Secretary has accused doctors of refusing to carry out tests for dementia because they believe it is pointless as there is no effective cure available.
Jeremy Hunt said the country should be "ashamed" that so many people were being denied treatment which could stave off the condition for years.