Twice as many dementia cases as ten years ago

The number of people living with dementia in Scotland has almost doubled since the start of the decade, prompting warnings of a crisis.

Prominent Alzheimer's sufferer Barbara Windsor and husband Scott Mitchell deliver a petition to No 10 Downing St. Picture: Tolga Akmen/Getty

An estimated 90,000 people in Scotland have the disease, which causes mental deterioration and symptoms that can include memory loss and speech problems.

According to the latest Scottish Government data, drug prescriptions for dementia patients have also almost doubled in that time. There were 270,000 drugs dispensed to people suffering from the disease last year, up from 136,000 in 2010/11.

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Opposition politicians claim the rise in drugs being handed out is evidence that the NHS is not providing the best standards of care.

NHS data earlier this year showed that fewer than half of all Scots suffering from dementia are being referred for support when they are diagnosed with the disease.

While the Scottish Government pledged to improve post-diagnostic support in its national dementia strategy in 2010, the statistics released in February showed just 46.7 per cent of patients were referred to specialist services.

Scottish Conservative mental health spokeswoman Annie Wells said more has to be done to ensure vulnerable patients were receiving sufficient care.

She said: “The fact the number of dementia cases has doubled within the space of a decade shows the scale of the challenge facing the NHS.

“These are vulnerable people who need and deserve the highest standard of care.

“But the SNP’s negligence of the NHS means wards are short-staffed and the health service is completely ill-equipped to deal with these increasing cases.

“Ministers have been warned for years about the impact of an ageing population and have refused to listen.

“If the nationalists don’t act now, the wellbeing of thousands upon thousands of dementia patients will be at risk.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said Scotland continues to be the only country in the UK that provides free personal care to adults.

They added: “This has been in place for over-65s since 2002 and was extended in April this year to those under 65. Local authorities have a statutory responsibility to ensure that personal care is no longer charged to the individual.

“Dementia care is a priority – we have published three national dementia strategies and a fourth will be developed next year. These are aimed at supporting good quality care for all stages of the illness.

“The Scottish Government’s estimated annual spend on dementia care for 2018-19 is £370 million for healthcare and £1.1 billion for social care. In 2014, the figures were £340m for healthcare and £0.73bn for social care. The increase is mainly down to more people having dementia.

We have a national approach to training and developing the dementia workforce including the national Dementia Champions programme in acute care.”