UK's NHS is to devote greater attention to Alzheimer's patients, putting them on the same footing as heart and cancer patients.
Doctors are to be trained to diagnose dementia and memory clinics will be set up in all major towns to give Alzheimer's sufferers and their families support and up-to-date care, said Phil Hope, the Care Services Minister.
AdvertisementMedical students will get specific training in dementia diagnosis and new postgraduate education training opportunities to be offered to existing GPs.
There are at least 700,000 people living with Alzheimer's or a related condition in Britain.
Around 355,000 live without any support from the NHS or social services, including home help or respite care.
Mr Hope said: "We want to see every GP trained to recognise the symptoms of early dementia and patients referred to specialist services in every area where they would get a proper diagnosis.
"As well as national training for GPs, we'd like to see memory clinics in every town where people can go for treatment and support to help them live their life as normally as possible.
"This could be provided by a range of different people, from geriatricians and psychiatrists to local GPs with a specialist interest, working in partnership and possibly involving the voluntary sector."
Mr Hope continued: "We need to be diagnosing people with dementia much earlier so we can have earlier intervention in their lives and support carers - this is what everyone tells us they want and need.
"It's also a more cost-efficient way of caring for people. If we can get this right over the next ten years we could save nearly Ł1billion while providing better care."
He added: "I have a strong sense that people don't understand it, they are often frightened by it, and we need this to change not just among the public but professionals as well.
"The number of people with dementia is going to double, even treble, and it has to be a priority.
"We are among the first countries in the world to plan a national strategy for dementia."
Mr Hope said funding arrangements for the new strategy would be announced next month.
He added that primary care trusts next year get a 5.5 per cent rise in budgets and have been charged with making dementia services a priority, Telegraph reports.
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