Residents of Salford are soon to see the benefits of a new service for the initial assessment of memory problems, after one of the biggest investments of its kind was put forward by local commissioners.
NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announced in March that it would spend an additional £1.5m on the Memory Assessment Treatment Service (MATS), to be provided in the area by Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMW).
The memory service is set up to diagnose patients living with dementia, which has a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities. The service will be provided at Woodlands Hospital in Little Hulton and the Meadowbrook Unit at Salford Royal Hospital.
A launch event took place on Monday 22nd September with contributions from the Memory Assessment and Treatment Service and its partner organisations including the Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK, Reach Beyond and the Carer’s Centre.
Dementia has been prioritised by the government on a national level, with 835,000 people in the UK having a dementia diagnosis. However it is thought to affect significantly more people, as diagnosis rates vary across the UK from as little as third in some areas and up to 75% in others. The Alzheimer’s Society’s 2014 campaign which was launched on in September 2014 aims to continue to promote early diagnosis through recognising signs and symptoms of dementia and to encourage people to see their GP and talk to someone. As such, memory clinics have become a crucial part of diagnosing and caring for people with dementia in the community.
Gill Drummond, Dementia Quality Lead for GMW said, “Early diagnosis in dementia is incredibly important as a timely diagnosis means that person and their network of friends and family have access to more support and a greater chance to be able to manage the effects of dementia and retain a better quality of life.
“Early signs of dementia can include memory loss, confusion, mood changes and problems with speech. I would urge anyone worried or concerned about their memory or the memory of a loved one to speak to their GP.”
“Improving the diagnosis rate of dementia and the subsequent provision of comprehensive post diagnostic support is critical as without a diagnosis, people living with dementia and their carers and family members are unable to access valuable support, information and potential treatments. A diagnosis opens the door to invaluable support that can help people with dementia to live a good quality of life and plan for the future.”
Around 750 people a year in Salford will develop dementia and GPs can refer patients to MATS for the assessment, diagnosis and post diagnostic support they need.
Dr Tom Tasker, NHS Salford CCG clinical lead for mental health, said: "Unfortunately, common misconceptions surrounding dementia still persist and act as barriers to those living with the condition. The idea that dementia is a natural consequence of growing older and that little can be done for those with the condition isn't the case.
"In reality, there are many things that can be done in the early stages of diagnosis that can assist in making life easier and improving the quality of life. Therefore, an early diagnosis really is key. With this added Salford CCG investment, we will see more patients seen quicker than before and offered appropriate support plans. I really would encourage anyone who is concerned about a loved one to go ahead and have that difficult conversation about dementia. Time is valuable."
- Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMW) provides district mental health services in Bolton, Salford and Trafford. GMW also provides substance misuse services in Bolton, Salford, Wigan and Leigh, Blackburn with Darwen, Central Lancashire and Cumbria.
- GMW delivers specialist mental health and substance misuse inpatient services throughout Greater Manchester and the wider North.
- NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group is made up of local GPs and is responsible for making sure the NHS budget is spent on providing the best health services for people in Salford.
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