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NHS in Suffolk develops innovative new memory service

A new NHS service for people in Ipswich and East Suffolk who are worried they are having memory problems will be launched in June.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have jointly developed an improved Community Memory Assessment Service (CMAS).

The new, improved service starts in June and represents an investment of £400,000 by NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG. The community clinics are expected to offer memory assessments to an extra 1,000 people a year.

The service has been designed to speed up diagnosis times and will be offered closer to people’s homes. The CMAS will run from clinics located in 10 health centres, staffed by NSFT medical and nursing staff and a lead GP in each of the health centres.

People who are worried about memory loss should see their GP who can carry out a screening test and then refer them to the new community service, if needed.

Ruth Mills, consultant clinical psychologist at NSFT, said: "This new service will enable people in East Suffolk to have access to easier assessment and diagnosis. This helps gets treatment, and support in place early on, which will improve the quality of life for people with a diagnosis of dementia and their families and carers."

Dr Karen Blades, a GP in Leiston and a member of the clinical executive of the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, said: "Patients have told us that being assessed and diagnosed currently takes too long. This new streamlined service aims to ensure a patient is seen by the right specialist at the right time in a convenient location and over time reduce waiting times to a maximum of six weeks.

"Anyone who is worried about their memory should make an appointment with their GP for an initial test and they will be referred if there are any concerns."

The service will work alongside Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Suffolk Family Carers and Sue Ryder to support people with information and support.

Memory loss can be affected by age, stress, tiredness, or some illnesses and medications. It can also be a symptom of dementia.

Dementia is a common condition that affects about 800,000 people in the UK. Your risk of developing dementia increases as you get older, and the condition usually occurs in people over the age of 65.

Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. This includes problems with:

• memory loss
• thinking speed
• mental agility
• language
• understanding
• judgement