Some 4,000 people are estimated to be living with dementia in Doncaster –and the figure is set to rise.
Health bosses are battling to get to grips with a steep increase in the number of cases as under-pressure services try and cope with the demands of an ageing population.
Dealing with the epidemic has now been named as a top health priority for the town by Doncaster Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board.
The board is a committee which is made up of some of the most influential health professionals in the borough, as well as politicians.
The move to make the issue a priority comes as it was revealed the number of hospital deaths for patients with dementia sky rocketed from 45 in quarter three of 2015/16 to 86 in the fourth quarter of 2015/16.
Today, we launch a campaign to put the dementia issue in our town under the spotlight with the first of a series of stories which will be running this week.
Latest figures reveal that there have been 442 hospital dementia deaths in total since 2014.
Doncaster’s director of public health, Dr Rupert Suckling, said: “Dementia is a major individual, family and community challenge, it’s estimated that 4,000 people in Doncaster are living with dementia.
“Although we are making huge improvements in identifying people with dementia there is more to do.
He added: “The total number of people with dementia is increasing as the population gets older and it’s no longer practical to rely on specific dementia services, although they will always have a role, like the Admiral Service (a nursing service which operates in the community).
“There is national evidence that the individual risk of dementia is falling as we tackle vascular risk factors such as smoking, physical inactivity and high blood pressure.
“The importance of omega-3 as part of a healthy diet is emerging as a protective factor for dementia too.
“All our services need to be able to care for people with dementia and the needs of their carers.
“The challenge is to become more ‘dementia friendly’ as a society, to support those with dementia but also recommit ourselves to prevention.”
Hospital services at Doncaster Royal Infirmary are feeling the strain as a result of the number of dementia cases in the borough.
The hospital has seen an increase in the number of hospital re-admissions within 30 days for people with dementia .
And it has also seen spikes in accident and emergency department attendances from patients who are suffering from the condition –a chronic disorder marked by memory disorders, personality changes and impaired reasoning.
Official statistics published by health bosses reveal the number of hospital re-admission within 30 days for people suffering from dementia rose to a high of 145 in quarter four of 2015/16.
In total there have been 1,246 since 2013.
Attendances at A&E were also up to 265 for the fourth quarter of 2015/16.
The figures show that in total there have been 1,766 such attendance s since 2013.
A raft of measures are being put in place as apart of an action plan designed to try to improve the services available for dementia sufferers and their carers.
The report, which was discussed at the most recent Health and Wellbeing Board meeting at Doncaster Council, said: “Doncaster’s dementia diagnosis rate is now well above the national ambition of 67 per cent. Having a diagnosis rate of 73.3 per cent leaves an unknown gap of around 900 to 950.”
The report added: “By being able to identify people with dementia enables people with dementia and their carers to access the right services and support and secondly assists commissioners to identify more accurately activity in the health and social care system so improvement can be made.”