Norfolk nurses hired to spot early signs of dementia

The NHS in Norfolk has recruited 13 nursing staff specifically trained to spot the early signs of dementia.

The specialists will work out of GP surgeries to try to diagnose patients before the illness takes hold.

Another mental health team is also being employed at hospitals in Norwich and King's Lynn to aid sufferers.

The Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust believes Norfolk could face a "dementia time bomb", with the illness set to affect 20,000 people by 2015.

"The delay in diagnosis is caused by all sorts of factors but one of them is still the prevalent idea that forgetfulness is a normal thing," said Hugo Dewall of the Trust.

Support team

"If you dismiss it in that way you might do someone a disfavour. An illness really should be treated," he added.

A Dementia Intensive Support Team will work at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn from the autumn, at a cost of £450,000.

Research carried out at NNUH in November found that more than a quarter of all adult patients had some form of dementia.

"The choices offered to people diagnosed with dementia and their carers by the timely, proactive response of the Intensive Support Team will enable a quicker return home," said Gary Hazeldon from the Trust.

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