Cutting dementia patients’ average hospital stay by one week could save the NHS at least £80m a year, a report by the Alzheimer’s Society claims.

Counting the Cost says long stays in hospital have an adverse effect on the health of dementia patients, with many ending up dehydrated and malnourished.

The charity questioned more than 2,400 dementia patients, NHS staff and carers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Almost half of carers (47 per cent) said being in hospital had a “significant negative effect on the general physical health of the person with dementia that was not a direct result of the medical condition”.

Andrew Chidgey, head of policy and public affairs at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Typically what we see is that people are deteriorating while in hospital because they are becoming more confused, disorientated, distressed and in some cases agitated.

“This means they are becoming dehydrated, malnourished, their dementia is becoming worse and they are taking far longer to recover from whatever they went into hospital for.”