Dementia ‘not well diagnosed’ in Redbridge

Redbridge is bucking a national trend by readily prescribing drugs to people with Alzheimer’s disease, experts have told the Recorder, but the picture appears less rosy when it comes to diagnosis of dementia.

An estimated 62 per cent of people with dementia in the borough last year – 1,569 people – went undiagnosed according to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Alzheimer’s patients in Redbridge, who will normally be referred to a clinic in King George Hospital, Barley Lane, Ilford or the Grovelands Memory Clinic, Grove Road, Chadwell Heath, are being prescribed vital drugs including Aricept and Exelon, according to the national charity.

That goes against a recent survey which found there has been little change in the availability of drugs for Alzheimer’s patients in England and Wales.

Julian Lloyd, the Alzheimer’s Society’s locality manager for north-east London, said: “From the staff I’ve spoken to in Redbridge, it’s not as much of a concern as in other areas.

“Anecdotally, the people who come to us who have been diagnosed are usually offered prescriptions of drugs in Redbridge.”

But a Gants Hill GP, Dr Ramzan Mughal, acknowledges that “there is still under-diagnosis of dementia” in the borough.

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GPs most commonly make the initial assessment of someone showing signs of dementia.

Dr Mughal, of the Gants Hill Medical Centre, Ethelbert Gardens, Gants Hill, said: “We [Redbridge GPs] will continue to develop services and clinical awareness to help us improve that early identification and also reach those patients who are not accessing our dementia services currently.”

Nancy Smith, the Alzheimer’s Society’s dementia support manager at Goodmayes Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes, says a number of factors could explain low diagnosis rates.

She said: “For some families, it’s hard to get GPs to refer to specialist clinics.

“For people who live alone it might not be getting picked up and in different communities there’s still some stigma about mental illness.”