Post-code lottery in care revealed as government publishes dementia ‘atlas’ of standards across England

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, will name and shame the areas of England which are failing in dementia care in a new online “Dementia Atlas” of Britain.

The atlas reveals huge gaps in the quality of care, with around 80 per cent of those with the illness being made to attend hospital in Knowsley, Merseyside, compared to 16 per cent in Medway, Kent.

Stark differences in end of life care are revealed with four in five people with dementia passing away at home in Devon but parts of London seeing the majority die in hospital wards.

The map also shows which areas have the most “dementia friends” – people in the local community specially trained to help – and factors that increase risk of developing the illness such as smoking.

Mr Hunt believes that the map will help “drive up standards” across the country to ensure patients get the standard of care that they need. It is part of his drive for more transparency in the NHS.

Mr Hunt will launch the tool is being unveiled today alongside Carey Mulligan, the British actress and star of The Great Gatsby and An Education, who is becoming the first ever UK Global Dementia Friends Ambassador.

She today reveals that she experienced at first-hand the “devastating” impact of dementia because her grandmother suffers from the disease.

The new atlas has five different categories for how good an area is for dementia patients, including prevention, diagnosis and support as well as “living well” and “dying well”.

The data shows that some of England’s most rural areas score well on Government indicators while many inner city areas are worse off.

Cornwall and Devon, Cumbria and coastal areas of East Anglia score highly when it comes to allowing patients to be treated in care homes rather than in hospitals, something Mr Hunt and other ministers have long demanded to relieve pressure on the NHS.

These areas also give dementia sufferers regular check-ups, which professionals say is essential to ensure that patients have a good quality of life in spite of their illness.

The data also shows that parts of the country are failing to allow patients to die at home. Mr Hunt has previously hit out at dementia suffers being left to die in “horrific conditions” rather than surrounded by family of friends at home.

Parts of London have the worst record for allowing dementia patients to pass away at home, with more than 6 in 10 dying on hospital wards in the boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hounslow and Newham.

The best area for regular checks on dementia care is North East Lincolnshire, which does so for 86 per cent of patients, while Somerset has the lowest score at 49 per cent.

Nottingham West has the highest proportion of people aged over 65 with dementia at 5.6 per cent while the lowest in Kernow, Cornwall, with just 3 per cent.

Mr Hunt said: “People living with dementia deserve the best possible care- and this new Dementia Atlas is designed to drive improvements across the country.

“By publishing the current levels of care, we are shining a spotlight on areas where there is still work to be done, whilst highlighting where we can learn from best practice.”

He added: “The impact of dementia tears at families and at our social fabric –  that’s why making progress is a key government priority.

Mr Hunt will appear alongside Mulligan to make the announcement at Heathrow airport today to train staff as it becomes the world’s first “dementia friendly” airport.

Ms Mulligan said: “My Nan has dementia and I have experienced first-hand how devastating it can be. It affects everyone differently, and it’s so important that everyone affected by the condition is treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. At the moment, there’s not nearly enough awareness and as a global society we have a duty to change that.

“The first step involves educating people and breaking down stigma – not just on our doorstep, but across the world. I’ve seen my Mum doing this in her role as a Dementia Friends Champion – now I’m honoured to become the first Global Dementia Friends Ambassador and help Alzheimer’s Society and the Government change global attitudes towards dementia.”

The move is part of the government’s drive to increase transparency of the NHS’s performance in an attempt to boost standards.

David Cameron, the former prime minister, oversaw the drive to open up the NHS’s data to the public.

Since 2013, over 1.6 million people have signed up to become a “dementia friend”, all of whom have committed to taking an action to help someone with dementia in their community.

The drive helps teach people about the realities of the illness and how to best cope with those who are affected  in day-to-day life.

The Alzheimer’s Society is working to reach 4 million dementia friends by 2020, while there are also around 150 “dementia friendly communities” in England alone where shops and companies have been trained.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “As the global dementia crisis snowballs, collaboration between countries is crucial in creating lasting change and a global dementia movement towards acceptance, inclusion and support for people living with dementia and their carers. We look forward to Carey’s leadership helping us tackle stigma on an international scale and achieve better lives for people with dementia the world over.”