Successful pilot project cuts memory clinic waiting times | Our latest updates

Successful pilot project cuts memory clinic waiting times

Memory Assessment Service Quality award 2023 win

An ambitious quality improvement project, carried out to help reduce waiting times for people with memory impairment, has smashed its initial targets.

In early 2023, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s Memory Assessment Service – which helps people experiencing problems with declining memory – launched a trial project at its Rushden service to cut waiting lists for assessments by up to 80 per cent.

People waiting for initial memory assessments had grown in recent years due to backlogs caused by Covid lockdowns, an increase in demand due to better awareness of the service by local doctors who are able to refer people, and an increased awareness by the public of memory-related conditions such as dementia.

The pilot project focused on new and innovative ways of working, including inviting patients, who were previously assessed in their homes, to a memory clinic based at The Rushden Centre, to cut the amount of time spent by specialists driving around the county. Any patients who were unable to get to the clinic continued to be offered home visits. Patients would undergo assessment and diagnosis during the same appointment, thereby minimising waiting times for diagnostic results.

Consultant Psychiatrist for the team, Dr Farida Jan committed to being available during the clinic days to conduct a thorough review of the assessments and provide timely diagnosis. This proactive approach ensured patients received comprehensive care and meant faster decision-making processes, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the clinic service.

The memory team also doubled the number of patients seen by each specialist over a week at the clinic, whilst keeping a close eye on staff wellbeing. Focus groups were set up with staff to look at patient feedback, any challenges or opportunities for further improvements, and to look to support staff where needed.

By the end of 2023, they had exceeded all expectations with waiting lists falling to over 80 per cent lower than the previous year – reducing from a wait time of up to eight months, to less than eight weeks.

Nancy Gatawa, Operations Manager at the Memory Assessment Service, said: “The project has been a huge success and the important thing is we’re seeing more people for assessments, more quickly, which speeds up diagnosis and treatment – making a really positive difference to patients and their families. It was a collaborative process, involving all our staff, who have been key to the success of the pilot. No-one wants to have long waiting lists; as we worked hard to reduce them, using the new ways of working, it gave staff a huge boost in morale knowing that they were helping achieve it on behalf of patients.”

The Memory Assessment Service helps people in Northamptonshire with declining memory or cognitive problems. Once the patient has met the referral criteria, the memory team will complete an assessment and provide diagnosis and on-going information and post-diagnostic support, working with the Alzheimer’s Society and Northamptonshire Carers to achieve the best outcomes for our patients.

In October last year, the service won an NHFT Quality Award in the Change Maker category (pictured above) and Memory Assessment Service Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Farida Jan (pictured below, on right) won the Patients Choice Award, the recipient of which is chosen by NHFT service users.Dr Farida Jan winning a Quality Award 2023 in the Patients Choice Award cateogory 

The team will now be looking to roll out the project to NHFT’s other Memory Assessment Service sites based at the Stuart Road Resource Centre in Corby, Danetre Hospital in Daventry, and Berrywood Hospital in Northampton.

They will also be sharing the learning with the neighbouring Leicestershire Partnership Trust, as well as NHS Trusts further afield.

To find out more about the Memory Assessment Service visit

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