The number of people diagnosed with dementia in England has shot up 62% in the last seven years.
Provisional figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), garnered through the Quality and Outcomes Framework, show that 344,000 patients had a recorded diagnosis of dementia in 2013-14, up from 319,000 in 2012-13 and from 213,000 in 2006-07 (when the data was first collected).
The rise could be down to the ageing population, a greater number of diagnoses, improved recording of diagnoses or a combination of factors, the HSCIC said.
Delving a little deeper into the figures also shows a regional variation in the level of recorded diagnosis, with the North and South having the highest levels at 0.68% and 0.67% the Midlands and East of England at 0.62%.
London, with its different age profile, was notably lower at 0.39%. But only 25.8% of patients registered with GPs are aged 50 or over; compared to 36.1% in the North of England, 36.4% in the Midlands and East and 38% in the South.
Figures vital for planning
"We are all aware of the challenges facing our ageing population and these figures will be vital for those planning and monitoring the effectiveness of dementia treatments and services,” said HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning, commenting on the findings.
However, it is also important to remember that these figures still fail to paint an accurate picture, given that it is believed around half of those with the condition remain undiagnosed.
“Whilst it is one of the most feared conditions for those over 55, everyone has a right to know they are living with dementia and deserves the chance to access available treatments and support,” noted George Mcnamara, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Alzheimer's Society.