New campaign to spot dementia

A LEADING doctor has today backed an awareness campaign to ensure dementia is diagnosed as early as possible.

A LEADING doctor has today backed an awareness campaign to ensure dementia is diagnosed as early as possible.

As Dementia Awareness Week draws to a close, Dr Rob Butler, a consultant psychiatrist at the memory service based at St Clements Hospital, has pledged that it is time Suffolk prepared for the massive increase in the number of people expected to have the condition by 2025.

He is supporting an initiative by the East Suffolk Branch of the Alzheimer's Society, which has contacted every GP in the area to ensure they are aware of their role in diagnosing it early, and know there is plenty of support available to help those with the condition.

This week members of the Society had a stand on the Cornhill in Ipswich, where they raised the profile of the campaign and provided information for those concerned about the illness.

Dr Butler said: “We as a Trust are very much for this. It has been known for some time that we rely on GPs to pick up the initial problem. Dementia is often missed. Only a third of people are ever properly diagnosed with dementia. One reason for this is people are frightened about it and they do not want to come forward. People just put up with it because there is a stigma and that is why we are raising awareness about it.

“From a medical point of view early diagnosis means treatment could start sooner. From people's perspective, they know what is going on and it means the family can talk through the problem and make plans for the future. It also means they can claim benefits from the government and get more support.”

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Following the publication of a national strategy on dementia earlier this year, the local version by NHS Suffolk, Suffolk County Council and NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney is due to be released soon.

Latest figures show that there will be 65 per cent more people diagnosed with dementia in Suffolk by 2025.

Dr Butler added: “It is time to get ready to deal with this in Suffolk. Suffolk is the first of the counties in the East of England to come up with their own dementia strategy. There is potentially an awful lot you can do about this.

“We have just reorganised our services to help people with memory problems.”

Do you know someone suffering from dementia and have a story to tell? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail