THE number of people diagnosed with dementia in the region has jumped by 1,500 since last year, according to new figures.

Statistics released by the Government showed that more than 16,500 people have now been diagnosed with the condition in the North-East.

But the charity is worried that only around half of all patients with dementia have actually been given a diagnosis.

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While the number of people being diagnosed with dementia is going up in the North-East the region is still lagging behind many parts of the UK.

Caroline Burden, the Newcastle-based Area manager for Alzheimer's Society in the North East, said: "It's encouraging to see an increase in the number people that are receiving a diagnosis in the North-East - but half of people that are living with dementia aren't receiving the support, benefits and the treatments that are often available.

"The NHS has made a commitment to improving diagnosis rates so now it is time for that commitment to turn into action locally, to help ensure people in the North-East can live well with the condition."

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said: "The small improvement in dementia diagnosis is good news, but the extreme variation across the country is unacceptable. It's time for the worst performing areas to wake up to the dementia time bomb.

"While many areas do excellent work, the worst is diagnosing just a third of people with dementia - delaying vital treatment and causing unnecessary suffering."

South Tyneside has the highest rate of patients diagnosed with dementia (59.1 per cent)in the region with Darlington (58 per cent) in second place.

Across the region 49.7 per cent of people with dementia have received a diagnosis, a little better than the England figure of 44.2 per cent.