Ivan Lewis launches consultation on dementia strategy

A consultation on the government’s first ever dementia strategy and review of the use of anti-psychotic drugs was announced today.

The full dementia strategy will be launched in the autumn, with the aims of increasing awareness of the condition and reducing stigma, better early diagnosis and intervention and improved quality of care. The consultation is expected to look at measures including at the appointment of a named dementia care adviser who would act as a single contact throughout diagnosis and treatment.

Launching the consultation today, care services minister, Ivan Lewis, said: “Dementia is a condition affecting an increasing number of families in our society and is one of the greatest challenges now facing NHS and social care services. That is why this first ever national dementia strategy is so important. It will set out how we will improve the quality of life for people with dementia and their families, improve the quality of care dementia sufferers receive, increase awareness of the condition and ensure earlier diagnosis and intervention.

“The consultation is about ensuring the final strategy we publish in the autumn truly fulfils my commitment to bring dementia out of the shadows.”

The seperate review of prescribing and use of anti-psychotic drugs to treat dementia sufferers will be completed before the publication of the dementia strategy.

The government said today it would also hold a summit with key stakeholders and organisations over the summer to consider a programme of research into the condition.

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said the announcement signalled a “landmark day” for people with dementia and their carers.

“It’s time to drag dementia care out of the dark ages and change the way we treat some of our most vulnerable older people. The Department’s actions and proposals are a great start. The review of antipsychotic drugs to stop dangerous over prescription to people with dementia is urgently needed. The research summit is also a crucial opportunity to address the fact that dementia research is drastically underfunded in the UK.”

The consultation will run from 19 June to 11 September 2008.

It is estimated that there are currently 700,000 people in the UK with dementia, with about 570,000 in England. In the next 30 years the number of people with dementia in the UK will double to 1.4 million in and the costs will treble to over £50bn a year.

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