Hundreds of people are being diagnosed with dementia more quickly following the introduction of a new screening system in hospital.
The early diagnoses mean patients in the early stages of the disease are getting the vital treatment they need to help slow its progress.
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust now screens almost all of its elderly inpatients admitted as an emergency to see if they are showing signs of the condition.
More than 3,000 tests have been carried out since the improved screening service was launched last April.
As a result staff have contacted the GPs of more than 300 people to highlight the need for further checks and specialist assessment.
The trust, which runs Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, cares for a high number of older people, who are more susceptible to the disease.
About one in four of all hospital inpatients are now thought to have a form of dementia, which is why the trust decided to increase its routine screening rates from 10% last year to 90% now.
Health experts said early diagnosis of dementia is essential adding that not only are treatments more effective in the early stages of the disease but it also gives families time to plan and prepare for the future.
Trust matron Katrina O’Shea said: “Detecting a dementia early can make a real difference to someone’s quality of life and the lives of those caring for them.
“That is why we have made such an effort to drive up the number of assessments we do and the figures show just how successful those efforts have been.
“We have a duty to our patients and their families not only to give them the best care that we can but also to make sure they are getting the most from other local services as well.
“Our staff did carry out these checks in the past but it was often quite ad hoc – now there is a concerted effort to assess this group of vulnerable patients properly so that they can get the support they need when they leave our care.”
The Azheimer’s Society says there are more than 24,400 residents across Sussex believed to have dementia and this is expected to rise to more than 33,700 in the next eight years.