UK & World News
Dementia: Doctors Refusing To Carry Out Tests
Doctors are refusing to carry out tests for dementia because they believe it is pointless as there is no effective cure, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned.
Mr Hunt said the country should be "ashamed" that so many people were being denied treatment which could stave off the condition for years.
His comments come as the Alzheimer's Society warned dementia sufferers were 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.
Across the UK just 46% of sufferers were diagnosed in 2012, the society said.
Mr Hunt said that attitudes in the NHS and in wider society have to change.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said: "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."
The Alzheimer's Society 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.
This means they are going without the support, benefits and the medical treatments that can help them live with the condition, charity chief executive Jeremy Hughes said.
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.