National health and social care services are failing to meet the needs of patients with dementia, with hundreds of thousands let down by a lack of support, according to a report by The Alzheimer’s Society.

The charity is calling for a national action plan to tackle dementia in the next five years, after its poll of GPs uncovered a distressing picture for patients and their carers tainted by a lack of local accessible services and barriers between social care and the NHS.

Over three-quarters of GPs surveyed (77%) think their dementia patients rely on family as they don't get enough help from health and social care services, while 73% said patients are forced to depend on friends, neighbours and other unpaid carers for support.

Seven in ten GPs say people with dementia are left unsupported because of a shortfall in accessible local services, which could also hold back diagnoses, while a further 61% noted a lack of cooperation between the NHS and social care preventing patients getting support, the charity said.

Elsewhere, doctors reported concerns over a lack of statutory support to deal with loneliness and nutrition, absence of support to deal with anxiety and depression, poor GP training, and confusing information for patients and their relatives/carers.

“With the number of people with dementia expected to grow to one million by 2021, there is no time to waste,” said Jeremy Hughes, the Alzheimer’s Society’s chief executive, noting that the findings “reinforce the urgency of putting in place meaningful care and support” for all patients.