A HOSPITAL trust is bucking the national trend by carrying out important tests to see if patients are at risk of dementia, new figures reveal.

The charity Age UK says that hospitals must use robust methods to assess dementia, to help the growing numbers of people at risk of the condition.

NHS England data shows that 7,082 people aged 75 or over were admitted as an emergency for more than three days to the East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, in the 12 months to April.

These patients should be asked within three days of being admitted if they have felt more forgetful in the past year, to establish if they may have dementia or delirium.

Those who show signs of the conditions should be more formally assessed and, if necessary, referred to specialist services.

In total, 97 per cent were asked the question at the trust, above the NHS’s target of assessing 90 per cent of elderly patients admitted this way.

The trust’s performance is better than for those across England, where 86 per cent of patients were asked the question over the period.

Dementia refers to a range of symptoms relating to the loss of brain function, including memory loss and difficulty thinking.

Delerium – a separate condition – can cause someone to become more confused than normal.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said it is crucial that medical staff use robust approaches to assess dementia, as hospitals see a rise in cases.

She added: “Hospital staff must also have a good understanding of delirium, which can be misdiagnosed as dementia.

“Finally, it is essential that accurate information is passed back to a person’s GP, so the care they need at home is available to them.”

Dr Ian Stanley, acting medical director for the trust, welcomed the figures.

He said: “I want to thank our staff who are responsible for the care and treatment of our elderly patients for their hard work which has helped the trust to assess 97 per cent of elderly patients for dementia when they are admitted to hospital, way over the national target of 90 per cent.

“Patients, families and carers should be comforted to know that East Lancashire Hospitals performs so well in this regard, exceeding both the national target, and the national average performance. Furthermore, this is a target where reaching 100 per cent is almost impossible as not every elderly patient can be assessed, for example, those who are near to the end of life.

“The trust’s dementia risk assessment uses the case finding question to identify dementia in patients over the age of 75 when they occupy a hospital bed. The results are then included in discharge letters to GPs who are able to refer the patient to specialist memory assessment services," he added.