Huge differences in the quality of care of patients with dementia have been revealed by the government's new Dementia Atlas.
The interactive map of England allows comparisons on issues such as prevention, diagnosis and support, the idea being that benchmarking services will clearly identify those areas in need of most improvement.
The data shows huge differences on a number of measures. For one, the number of patients who have had their care reviewed in the last 12 months - critical to ensure that their needs and that of their carers are adequately addressed - ranges from 49.3 percent in Somerset to 85.8 percent in North East Lincolnshire.
Elsewhere, the number of emergency admissions varies wildly from 1,840 to 6,046 per 1,000 of the population, as does the mortality rate for those with recorded mention of dementia, from 441 to 1,617 per 1,000, while the number of patients with dementia who have a blood test recorded ranges across the country from 57.3 percent to 86.6 percent.
"The Atlas exposes varied care, with some areas reporting much higher numbers of emergency hospital admissions," noted the Alzheimer's Society. "We must urgently explore why people with dementia's needs are escalating to this point and what can be done in the community to prevent crisis admissions among this vulnerable group".
"As our Fix Dementia Care campaign unearthed, it's currently easier to find out about your hospital's finances than the quality of dementia care they provide," it added. "To make hospital's more transparent and accountable, we are calling for them to publish an annual statement on dementia care - this would include the number of readmissions and length of stay. We would like to see this level of detailed information featured in the Atlas so we know where to focus efforts to improve standards."
Actress given Ambassador role
Meanwhile, it was announced that oscar-nominated actress Carey Mulligan has been appointed by the Alzheimer's Society and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as the first ever UK Global Dementia Friends Ambassador.
In her new role, Ms Mulligan will bring both international attention to the benefits of making communities dementia friendly, and a renewed focus on the Alzheimer's Society's Dementia Friends programme in England, the charity said.
"At the moment, there's not nearly enough awareness and as a global society we have a duty to change that," she said, adding: "The first step involves educating people and breaking down stigma – not just on our doorstep, but across the world".