PCTs ‘must be required to deliver on dementia strategy’

Primary care trusts should be required to deliver on the government’s national dementia strategy, sector leaders said today, after a critical National Audit Office report found the strategy was at risk of failure.

The public spending watchdog said local leadership was lacking to implement the strategy – published a year ago next month – and highlighted the fact that its objectives were not among the national priorities PCTs were required to deliver on.

‘Compel PCTs’

Andrew Ketteringham, director of external affairs at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “The strategy will transform lives but only if local health authorities are compelled to give dementia the priority it deserves.”

The Local Government Association’s group strategic lead for adult social care Andrew Cozens said it would be a challenge to effect change without dementia being a national priority for PCTs.

The NAO said there was no evidence as yet that the £60m allocated to PCTs for 2009-10 to deliver on the strategy had been spent on that purpose.

Cozens said this mirrored the situation in relation to the 2008 carers strategy, “where there is a lot of evidence that the [PCT] resources set aside for carers have not reached them”.

Commissioners ‘need clout’

Professor Peter Passmore, dementia lead at the British Geriatrics Society, which represents clinicians working with older people, said PCT commissioners needed to be given more “clout” to ensure the strategy was given due priority.

However, Jo Webber, deputy policy director at the NHS Confederation said that dementia was a priority for the NHS.

She added: “[Dementia] is where some of the long-term impact on our service is going to be. Some of the responses to it are not easy, it’s about developing new services and that’s not something you can do quickly.”

DH ‘not enabling delivery’

Martin Green, chief executive of the English Community Care Association, said the Department of Health was “giving good quality policy but they are not enabling delivery at a local level”.

The NAO identified a lack of engagement with care homes from NHS leaders, despite the residential sector accounting for almost half of health and social care spending on dementia.

Green, whose organisation represents care homes, said primary care trusts were not aware of the ways care home sector could help with the challenge of dementia.

Care home champion

He has recently been appointed dementia champion for the independent sector, to raise the profile of the strategy within care homes.

Green added that he would be pursuing efforts to resolve issues of training and joint working between the statutory and independent sector, in this capacity.

Dementia conference

Community Care is running a conference to mark the first anniversary of the national dementia strategy in central London on 11 February. Find out more and book your place.

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