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First national dementia strategy planned

Published on 07/08/07 at 10:57am

Plans have been unveiled for the first-ever national dementia strategy as the scale of the problem becomes clear.

The number of people with dementia in England is set to double from 600,000 over the next 30 years, but a recent report found patients were being failed by health and social services.

The government is to produce a strategy for improving awareness, diagnosis and treatment of dementia in all parts of the country by next summer.

It may include initiatives such as an information campaign about detecting the first signs of dementia, specific staff training to improve diagnosis, and guidance for the NHS and social care to manage the care of people with dementia.

Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis said the current system was failing too many dementia sufferers and their carers and the disease needed to be brought out of the shadows.

He added: "Dementia is a unique illness with devastating consequences. We know that as people live longer, an increasing number of families will have to cope with the harsh realities of dementia."

Development of the strategy will be led by Prof Sube Banerjee, professor of mental health and ageing at King's College London and Jenny Owen, joint chairman of the ADASS Older People's Committee. They will work with a stakeholder group, led by Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society.

Last month, a report by the National Audit Office found too few people with dementia are being diagnosed, or being diagnosed soon enough, and early interventions known to be cost-effective are not being made widely available.

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