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Transformations in local mental health services will benefit dementia patients

Dementia is one of the biggest health crises facing England with an estimated 665,000 people in this country living with the condition.

Local health chiefs, NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), have recognised the growing problem and identified dementia as one of its strategic priorities for the next five years.

Led by a number of local GPs and other health professionals, NHS Vale of York CCG has put plans in place to transform the Vale of York’s mental health services to enable a greater parity of esteem between mental and physical health with a particular focus on dementia.

Dr Louise Barker, the CCG’s Clinical Lead for Mental Health, said: “Remodelling local mental health services is key to transforming the health and care system so it meets the needs of our community.

“More work will be done with primary care to increase the knowledge and skills of practice staff, increase efficiency of screening, coding and links to memory clinics and care navigators.

“Our conversations with partners have been vital in laying out the scope of change that will be required across the system. Working in partnership with health promotion and local authorities, we aim to help remove the stigma surrounding dementia and improve early diagnosis rates.

“The new Acute Liaison Psychiatry Service that opens later this year at York Hospital will provide a dedicated mental health service to the hospital’s emergency department. From 2015 the CCG will be fully funding this service which will ensure better access to the right type of care for patients with mental health conditions.

“Transformations in mental health services will be a significant area of investment for the CCG over the coming years and our aim is to ensure that timely, safe and quality mental health care is equally as accessible as care for physical illness or injury.”

The CCG is also keen to highlight the importance of people getting checked by their GP as soon as they start to spot any of the early signs that could be linked to dementia.

Dr Barker added: “These can include symptoms such as memory loss – especially forgetting recent events and information, difficulty finding the right words, problems understanding numbers or money, becoming confused in unfamiliar environments and changes to mood and personality.

“If you start to notice any of these signs, which are often very mild to begin with, see your GP straight away – the earlier a diagnosis can be given the earlier that treatment and support can start.”

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