Police chief, Sir Peter Fahy, believes that a national dementia database would help emergency services assist people who or either confused or agitated.
Sir Peter, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester said: “It will enable the caring agencies to give a much better service when we receive a call and decide how to treat it.”
The Alzheimer’s Society, however, said that I could end up causing more problems than it may solve.
It is estimated that there are 800,000 people within the UK who are suffering from some form of dementia, with that figure set to rise to more than a million over the next decade, reports the BBC.
Greater Manchester is one of the largest police forces in England, and estimates that around 400 of its 7,200 officers each year are taken away from traditional policing roles, to deal with people who have mental health issues. Part of this mental health workload is related to people suffering from dementia.
“It’s a growing issue and sometimes it is because people suffering from dementia go missing, sometimes it’s because they have fallen at home and they are confused and we need to gain access on behalf of the ambulance service,” Sir Peter told BBC Radio 5 live Investigates. “We have some people with dementia who are ringing us 30 times a day and clearly we have to take every one of those calls seriously,” he added.
He believes that the police service need to look at procedures which would ensure people with dementia get a better service.
“One thing I would like to see is a national database where carers and the families of elderly vulnerable people can put their contact details so if the police or ambulance get a call to that particular address, they can phone that relative and immediately get some background information. While some might see that as a threat to civil liberties and the state having too much information – in reality it will enable the caring agencies to give a much better service.”
The Alzheimer’s society, however, says that: “Too many people with dementia currently go under the radar, and lose out on access to the health and social care support they need. Agencies like the police need to be able to identify people with dementia but giving them access to a national database may pose problems,” George McNamara, the head of policy at the society said. “If the police and social services were to simply share existing information more effectively, this could go a significant way towards aiding the police and enabling people with dementia to live independently in their own homes.”
In a statement the Department of Health said: “There are no plans to introduce a national database of dementia patients. Any decision to do so would have to be backed up by robust evidence demonstrating that it helps vulnerable people with the condition remain more independent. The choice of being included on such a database must be made by the individual and their family. We want to ensure that people with dementia can lead as independent lives as possible. This is why schemes such as Dementia Friends, which help to raise public awareness and understanding of the condition, are so important.”
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