Editorial Comment: Action on dementia – at last

While the furore continues over the authenticity of the “death scene” in ITV’s Malcolm and Barbara, a documentary about someone with Alzheimer’s, the real story is being missed.

Our health and social care services remain ill-equipped to deal with the rapid expansion of dementia, which could affect 1.7 million people by 2051.

So, it’s good news that a consultation has been launched on the development of a national dementia strategy. Care services minister Ivan Lewis is targeting improved awareness, early diagnosis and high quality treatment. “I am determined that this disease is brought out of the shadows,” he says.

There’s no doubt that we need integrated care models to tackle dementia, including an improved range of home support packages and more support for carers. We also need the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to reconsider its recent restriction on the use of dementia drugs.

Joining up our approach will make more effective use of the £3.3bn spent each year on dementia, but additional resources will be required.

Last week, Harrow Council joined the growing band of authorities in England restricting access to adult social services to those with critical needs – a development that flies in the face of early intervention, as advocated by the Department of Health.

Any strategy is going to need real backing if we’re to stop people being rapidly stripped of their independence and dignity on developing dementia.

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 Mike Broad

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