Fewer than 20% of patients diagnosed with dementia across the north-east are choosing to take up a 12-month support package.
New figures show just 18.6% of newly diagnosed patients were referred for support across the NHS Grampian area in 2016-17, with opposition politicians branding the statistics “utterly shameful”.
However, NHS Grampian confirmed the support is offered to all those newly diagnosed with dementia, but not everyone chooses to take it.
The Scottish Government pledged to improve post-diagnostic support in its national dementia strategy in 2010, but latest statistics show just 46.7% of patients were referred to specialist services across Scotland.
An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: “We offer support at this early stage of dementia – patients or their families are not obliged to take it.
“It may be that people do not feel they need support at this stage, or they already have experience of dementia and feel confident they have the resources they need, or there may be other factors for patients.
“While we do encourage patients and their families to take advantage of this support, we must respect their decision if they choose not to take it.”
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A total of 335 people were referred for the package of support out of the 1,798 people newly diagnosed with the condition in the NHS Grampian area – the second lowest number of referrals in Scotland.
Scottish Conservative mental health spokeswoman Annie Wells said: “The target set is that every person with dementia should receive these support packages for at least a year after being diagnosed.
“Yet despite this SNP pledge, fewer than half are being referred. And of those who are, not even all of them are getting the support they need.
“Every year the number of people diagnosed with this cruel condition increases, and that should be matched by improvements in care and performance.
“Yet on the SNP’s watch, it continues to be completely unacceptable.”
Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon branded the performance “utterly shameful”.
She said: “Our health service has to adapt to the challenges of the future and more and more people are being diagnosed with dementia each year.
“The SNP has been in charge for more than a decade. They must urgently ensure people get the support they need.”
Scottish Government Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey said: “Over the last decade dementia services have been modernised, supported by our world-leading work on post-diagnostic support, but we recognise that there is more to do to support local partnerships to extend access to this service.
“We are currently testing the re-location of dementia post-diagnostic support in primary care and we have also recently commissioned new work to examine the delivery of the service for people with a high level of additional care and support needs.”