Downturn holds up launch of national dementia strategy

The economic downturn has delayed the national dementia strategy, a project lead has said.

Department of Health adviser Prof Sube Banerjee last week told a Laing and Buisson conference – which had been scheduled to follow publication of the strategy – that the crisis had made resources “harder to come by”.

His view was endorsed by Alzheimer’s Society head of policy and campaigns Andrew Chidgey, who has also worked on the strategy. He said: “[There is now] much more scrutiny for departments on new announcements and projects aren’t necessarily getting through as quickly given the work that’s going on to deal with the financial crisis.”

The document had been expected in October 2008 and there were strong hopes it would be out before Christmas.

Banerjee, professor of mental health and ageing at King’s College London, pledged that the strategy would be published soon.

Chidgey warned that if publication were delayed past February it would become more difficult to influence financial planning by primary care trusts and councils for 2009-10.

Costs revealed

A consultation paper published last June included a proposal to set up early intervention and diagnosis services in England, which it said would cost £220m a year to implement.

The potential cost of another consultative proposal – on using the care registration system to ensure every care home catered for people with dementia – was revealed at the conference.

New research from Laing and Buisson, trailed by director William Laing, revealed that 48% of UK care homes were not registered to accept people with dementia. It also showed that private care homes were charging a “dementia premium” of £47 a week to look after residents with the condition.

• Details of our conference on Dementia Dignity & The Challenge Of An Ageing Society

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