The government admitted today that insufficient priority has been given to implementation of the national dementia strategy by the NHS.
In the revised NHS operating framework for 2010-11, the Department of Health said it was one of only two areas, which stood out as not receiving priority by strategic health authorities. The other was care for veterans.
However, the DH said it would not impose performance requirements on primary care trusts to get them to implement the strategy, whose goals include improving the quality of care in hospitals and care homes, promoting early diagnosis and raising public awareness of dementia.
Rather, ministers will expect PCTs to publish information for local people on how they are implementing the strategy, making them locally accountable for delivery.
Last week, the all-party parliamentary group on dementia revealed that nearly half of PCTs had missed the 31 March deadline to have joint plans in place with councils to implement the strategy. In March it emerged that two-thirds of PCTs could not account for money from central government intended to support the strategy’s implementation.
Jo Webber, deputy policy director at the NHS Confederation, said she was confident prioritisation in the national framework would see dementia pushed up the agenda by all PCTs.
However, she said the publication of local plans “only takes you half way”, as it was not clear how these would affect service development, while she added that greater local decision-making would also lead to greater variation between areas.
Ruth Sutherland, acting chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, welcomed the announcement, but added: “Any move towards local accountability must not mean a move away from national leadership”.