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Dementia care not made priority

14th January 2010

The National Audit Office has accused ministers of breaking a pledge to make dementia a national priority.

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The spending watchdog says Alzheimer’s does not appear on the Department of Health’s official list of priorities and that plans for a network of memory clinics have been scrapped.

While recognising the dementia strategy of February 2009 as ambitious and comprehensive, the NAO said the DH had not matched commitment “with a robust approach to implementation, which aligns leadership, funding, incentives and information.”

There were also fears there would not be the funding to improve services.

Chairman of the Commons public accounts committee Edward Leigh said: “The department must demonstrate that this strategy is not just fine words and give the NHS and local authorities the tools they need to transform dementia services as a matter of urgency.”

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said the report showed Labour was still failing dementia patients and their families.

“Tackling the dementia time-bomb is going to require a solution which addresses the crisis in the social care system and the lack of research funding,” he said.

Care services minister Phil Hope said: “It is important to remember that the fieldwork was done five months after the National Dementia Strategy was published. Our implementation plan is on track.”

The Royal College of Nursing expressed deep concern that dementia care was still not getting the attention and investment it needed.

With 30 years the number of people with dementia in England is expected to rise to 1.2 million.

 

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