Drug prescriptions for dementia in Scotland double in a decade

Prescriptions rose to 270,000 in 2016.

Monday, 23rd December 2019, 6:00 am
Both diagnosis and treatment of dementia is on the rise.

The number of drug prescriptions for dementia doubled in the decade to 2016, while figures for diagnosis of the disease have risen by 14% in the last five years.

There were 270,000 prescriptions handed out to those living with the disease in the period between 2005/6 and 2015/16, according to figures from the Information Services Division.

This compares to 136,000 in 2010/11.

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Rates of diagnosis in the country have increased from 16,700 in 2014 to 18,990 in 2019.

The increase is due to a drive to improve diagnosis and an ageing population, experts said.

The UK government launched an initiative to improve dementia diagnosis rates in 2012, as early diagnosis increases the chance of patients being given appropriate treatment.

At the time the government estimated that just 40 per cent of those with dementia had been officially diagnosed.

It comes as National Records of Scotland figures show the number of deaths from dementia rose by 18.2 per cent to 1,473 in the third quarter of this year, as compared to the third quarter average for the past three years.

Care for patients with dementia costs the UK just under £35 billion a year, but two thirds of that is paid for by families of sufferers rather than the government.

Ewan Russell, head of policy and campaigns at the Alzheimer’s Society, said it is ‘ridiculous’ that people with dementia must pay for so much of their care, and called on the government to ‘step in and boost people’s support’.

“Often the support simply is not there and when it is there it is often poor quality,” he said.

“It is heartbreaking and not right that people with dementia have to battle to get the care that they need.

He added: “Alzheimer’s Society has published a report this week from LSE that shows that by 2040 the number of people living with dementia will have doubled but the costs of care for those people is going to triple.

“Costs have gone up to £35bn in 2019 and will have trebled to £94bn in two decades.

“Families are bearing two thirds of the costs of dementia care. With more people getting it, we do not think that that is sustainable at all.”

Diagnosis figures in Scotland are based on estimates made by the government in 2016, not the number of people on the dementia register.

Places with the largest percentage increases in the country were Ayrshire and Arran, at 33 per cent, Orkney at 20 per cent, and Dumfries and Galloway, with a 15 per cent increase.

Dr Karen Harrison Dening, head of research and publications at Dementia UK said: “If you developed cancer in later life, the NHS would step in. Alzheimer’s (one type of dementia) and dementia is a brain disease, but the NHS doesn’t provide the same level of care and treatment as for other diseases and conditions.

“A third of us will die with or from dementia. This is an issue that needs tackling now.”