Two-thirds of PCTs cannot account for dementia strategy money

Nearly two-thirds of primary care trusts (PCTs) are unable to show where they have spent money intended to support the national dementia strategy, according to a report published today by MPs and peers.

The all-party parliamentary group on dementia asked all 152 PCTs where they had allocated their share of £150m of funding to implement the strategy from 2009-11. Just 70 responded to the group’s freedom of information requests, which the report said highlighted an apparent inability to provide information.

Only 25 said they had allocated funding under the strategy, with just 16 of these providing figures on where the money had been spent.

Of the remaining 45 PCTs, half said the dementia strategy funding – which has been included in PCTs’ general budgets – could not be separated from other funding streams.

The report said the lack of ring fencing around the funding and the government’s failure to make the strategy a national priority for PCTs under the NHS operating framework, meant there was no imperative for PCTs to prioritise the strategy.

Evidence submitted to the all-party group showed those that had spent the money on dementia services had mostly developed memory or early diagnosis services, a key priority under the strategy.

Ignoring priorities

The report welcomed this but said many PCTs were ignoring other priorities such as improving the quality of dementia care in care homes and workforce development.

It also warned that several local authorities and PCTs would miss a deadline of the end of this month for having a joint dementia strategy in place.

The all-party group called for all PCTs to account for their full allocation of strategy funding in 2010-11 and prioritise investment in all relevant aspects of the strategy, with greater attention focused on improving the quality of residential care. It called on the Department of Health to make a formal response to the findings.

Its report is the latest in a string of studies to find that PCTs have failed to allocate resources identified by government for specific strategies.

Earlier this week, a National Council for Palliative Care survey found that 35% of PCTs could not identify where they had spent their share of £88m of funding to support the government’s end-of-life care strategy. In addition, last year PCTs were also found to be unable to account for money to support the carers strategy in 2009-10.

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