Memory clinics will be set up in every town in England, doctors will get extra training to recognise the early signs of dementia and every hospital and care home will have a senior clinician with responsibility for dementia care, as part of a £150m five-year dementia strategy.

Ministers said they were confident the new clinics, to which patients will be able to self-refer, would ultimately save the NHS money, as early diagnosis enables people with dementia to be treated earlier and remain independent for longer.

"It takes on average three years after the disease begins for people to be diagnosed, partly because of the stigma and also a lot of GPs are not trained to spot the early signs," said care services minister Phil Hope (watch a video interview with Phil Hope here).

Support

He said the clinics would offer assessment, support, information and advice to those with memory problems and their carers.

Campaigners such as the Alzheimer's Society welcomed the plans but warned the strategy's success would depend on it being adequately funded.

"There is so much to do. It is essential the strong leadership from the Department of Health continues so that these plans become a reality," said Alzheimer's Society chief executive Neil Hunt.

The Alzheimer's Research Trust said a major increase in funding for research into dementia was needed.

To read the strategy go to www.dh.gov.uk

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Improving NHS dementia care