More money and expertise is to be ploughed into dementia research over the next five years, fufiling a key coalition pledge.
This includes a pledge of up to £20 million from the Department of Health over five years to fund dementia research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
Increasing funding for dementia research was included in the coalition’s programme for government, issued shortly after last year’s election, following Community Care’s Dementia Declaration campaign, which called for the incoming government to make dementia a priority.
Dementia research has historically been underfunded compared with conditions such as cancer, and today’s announcement was strongly backed by the Alzheimer’s Society.
‘Today’s route map provides the opportunity of a generation to not only transform the face of dementia research but also to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people with dementia,” said Professor Clive Ballard, director of research at the charity. “Without research we cannot improve care, develop treatments or move closer to a cure so it is great to see action being taken to put dementia on the right path.”
Other pledges made today include:
- committing the Medical Research Council (MRC) to increase funding for neurodegeneration research by 10% to £150million over the next four years to 2015.
- boosting the number of experts in the dementia field through new academic clinical fellowships.
- strengthening links between public and private research sectors to identify new opportunities for partnership.
- ensuring more patients and carers get involved in research through the NIHR’s dementia and neurodegenerative diseases research network, which will facilitate research in the NHS and care home sector.
Care services minister Paul Burstow said: “We need to better understand dementia if we are to counter its effects more successfully. Research is the key to developing new treatments, transforming care and ultimately to finding a cure for this devastating disease.
“We spent almost £19 million on dementia research last year. But more must be done, that’s why the coalition government made this commitment to increase dementia research. I am delighted that we have been able to unveil this plan to drive forward research.”
Dr Declan Mulkeen, the MRC’s research programmes director, welcomed the funding and said: “Through investment in scientific research excellence and by working in partnership with leading charities, government and industry, the MRC will speed up progress towards real improvements in early diagnosis and the development of new treatments.”
One year on from the Dementia Declaration, what progress has been made?