ALMOST 5,000 people over the age of 65 in Dorset are expected to be living with undiagnosed dementia, according to new figures.

With 187,456 people in the county over the age of 65, it is estimated that 13,089 are living with dementia.

In Dorset, 8,164 over-65s are registered with GPs as having some form of the disease – leaving an expected 4,925 undiagnosed.

The figures have been published in a report by the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group which provides an update on its dementia services review.

NHS England has set a target for clinical commissioning groups (CCG) to have two-thirds of their prevalent populations diagnosed, leaving Dorset with a gap of 616 people at the end of last year.

Andrew Boaden, Alzheimer’s Society senior policy officer, said that the number of people who have not been formally diagnosed was “concerning”.

He said: "Dementia diagnosis rates vary significantly from place to place, which is concerning.

"Alzheimer's Society research shows that over a third of people with dementia in the UK don't get a formal diagnosis, and we believe everyone with dementia has a right to know.

"With the number of people with dementia set to reach 1 million by 2021, the government and the NHS must do more to address this issue."

However, professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said that it was not always in patients’ interests to have a formal diagnosis.

“Pressuring patients to seek early advice, especially for short term memory lapses, can cause harm and create unnecessary worry,” she said.

“There may be some situations where GPs might consider it in the best interest of the patient to delay seeking a formal diagnosis, especially in the early stages of the condition if there is minimal adverse effect on daily living and functioning.

“This decision might also be influenced by their knowledge of the local availability of assessment and treatment services, which may be insufficient to meet demand.

“To ensure GPs are fully supported when treating patients with suspected dementia, there must be better access to appropriate post-diagnostic care services in the community so that patients can then receive appropriate treatment when and where they need it.”