Govt announces national focus on dementia

Dementia groups welcome national focus
Dementia groups welcome national focus

The government has unveiled plans for a nationwide strategy to help dementia sufferers.

Currently 600,000 people suffer from dementia in England and the Department of Health (DoH) expects this figure to double over the next thirty years.

Health minister Ivan Lewis today warned dementia is set to become "one of the greatest challenges facing society".

Mr Lewis said the DoH campaign would focus on raising awareness, increasing the number of early diagnoses and providing high quality treatment.

On a visit to a mental health centre for older people in west London, Mr Lewis said the current system was failing too many dementia sufferers and their carers.

He continued: "I am determined that this disease is brought out of the shadows. We need to minimise the shame and fear associated with dementia so that people and their relatives feel able to seek support at the earliest possible stage in the knowledge they will get expert help and be treated with dignity and respect."

Health care officials are concerned the early signs of dementia are often dismissed as a normal part of growing older, meaning sufferers can miss out on specialist care.

The DoH pledged to publish a Transformation Plan to improve awareness and services by next summer.

Mr Lewis said: "It is of utmost importance that we have the right services in place for people with dementia as well as those who love and care for them.

"By concentrating on improving awareness, diagnosis and managing the disease we will help transform the lives of those with dementia by improving their quality of life."

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) welcomed the government's plan for a national strategy.

Julie Jones, chief executive of SCIE and Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said dementia is rapidly emerging as one of the biggest challenges for health and social care services.

In a joint statement they said: "We know that it is essential to plan and deliver joint health and social care services to people with dementia and their families - and where this happens, outcomes improve."

The Alzheimer's Society described Mr Lewis' announcement as a "pivotal moment" for those affected by dementia.

Neil Hunt chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "For too long dementia has been at the bottom of health and social care pile. This announcement by our new government represents a real step forward in policy towards dementia."


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