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Dementia to be made priority

6th August 2007

The government has called on experts in order to find solutions to the impact of dementia on society.

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560,000 people suffer from dementia in England, at a cost to the economy of £25,391 for each person annually. Britain's ageing population will mean the figure could rise above the one million mark within 30 years.

The NHS spends around £3.3 billion on care for people with dementia and the economic toll each year is approximately £14.3 billion. Almost two-thirds of dementia sufferers are cared for in the community by unpaid carers.

£5.2 billion of "informal" care costs and 30% of the £5.8 billion required to pay for care homes are paid by the families of dementia patients. Dementia patients' diagnosis takes on average twice as long as other countries in Europe.

The government has given the National Dementia Strategy group one year to come up with ways of dealing with the issue.

Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis said: "The current system is failing too many dementia sufferers and their carers."

He described the areas - "disease awareness, early diagnosis and high quality treatment" - where changes were necessary.

Professor Sube Banerjee, professor of mental health and ageing at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, will chair the National Dementia Strategy group.

Professor Banerjee said: "Dementia is one of the largest and most important public health and social care challenges that we face. We need to act now to develop services."

 



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