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Dementia atlas reveals patchy care.

A new dementia atlas, published by the government, reveals patchy NHS care across England.

While some regions appear to meet national standards in terms of offering regular reviews and support, others fall short, says Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

He said tackling the disease is a key priority and the new atlas should drive improvements.

The atlas maps five care themes - prevention, diagnosis, support, living with dementia and end-of-life care - using benchmarks for each.

For example, one benchmark is that every person living with dementia should have an annual check-up to review their care needs.

In some areas of England, such as Aylesbury and North East Lincolnshire, around 85% of patients get these face-to-face meetings. In other areas, the figure is much lower. In Somerset, for example, the figure is 50%.

Regional variation in population density and age could explain some differences, but not all, say dementia charities.

Head of policy and public affairs at Alzheimer's Society, George McNamara, said: "The causes of variation need to be investigated to ensure care is never a gamble."

Director at  Age UK, Caroline Abrahams, said: "In some areas, help is really good but elsewhere services are not up to scratch, with only a few people receiving an annual review of their care following diagnosis.

"This is an unacceptable postcode lottery of care. We must continue efforts to improve both access to, and quality of, care for the growing number of us living with dementia."

There are 676,000 people living with dementia in England and this figure is set to rise.

Mr Hunt said that by publishing the current levels of care "we are shining a spotlight on areas where there is still work to be done, while highlighting where we can learn from best practice."

The atlas also shows which areas of England are dementia-friendly communities where steps have been taken to make life easier for people with dementia and their carers.

This includes measures such as training local shopkeepers on how to interact with customers who have dementia.

While much of West Midlands and Yorkshire are now dementia-friendly, many other regions north and south of these areas are not.