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Jeremy Hunt's drive to make UK 'best place in world to live well with dementia'

Published 06/03/2016

File photo dated 05/07/13 of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, as an investigation by the BBC using the Freedom of Information Act has show in a string of emails an apparent attempt to cover up the fact Hunt was briefed on a study of weekend death data ahead of its publication.
File photo dated 05/07/13 of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, as an investigation by the BBC using the Freedom of Information Act has show in a string of emails an apparent attempt to cover up the fact Hunt was briefed on a study of weekend death data ahead of its publication.

The UK should be the most dementia-friendly country in the world by 2020, the Health Secretary has said.

Jeremy Hunt said the Government wanted to boost the numbers of people with dementia getting a diagnosis, raise awareness of the condition and encourage more research.

Under new plans, if a pilot scheme proves successful, everyone aged 40 and over will be given information about dementia and memory problems when they have their free NHS health check with their GP.

Current information on which regions are good at diagnosing dementia will be strengthened with Ofsted-style ratings, enabling people to make more meaningful comparisons about the quality of dementia care in their area.

There is a new aim for 10% of all people diagnosed with dementia to take part in research, while the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will include standards of dementia care in their inspections.

Mr Hunt also said seven-day services will also improve for dementia patients in hospitals, with patients in high dependency care seen and reviewed by a consultant twice a day, every day of the week, by 2020.

He said: " A dementia diagnosis can bring fear and heartache, but I want Britain to be the best place in the world to live well with dementia. Last parliament we made massive strides on diagnosis rates and research - the global race is now on to find a cure for dementia and I want the UK to win it.

"This Parliament I want us to make big progress on the quality of care and treatment.

"Hospitals can be frightening and confusing places for people with dementia, so our new plan will guarantee them safer seven day hospital care, as well as tackling unacceptable variations in quality across England through transparent Ofsted-style ratings."

Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK, resulting in the loss of brain cells. The most common type is Alzheimer's disease.

Early symptoms include problems with memory and thinking. As the disease progresses, people can experience difficulty with walking, balance and swallowing.

Last year, the Alzheimer's Research UK charity warned of a "looming national health crisis" as the population ages - getting older is the biggest risk factor for dementia.

It said o ne in three people born in 2015 will develop dementia. Calculations showed 27% of boys born in 2015 will develop the condition in their lifetime, alongside 37% of girls.

The Government has doubled research funding to £60m a year and invested £150m to develop a national Dementia Research Institute to drive forward new treatments.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer's Society, said: "We applaud the Government's firm commitment to make the UK the most dementia friendly place in the world.

"Until recently, people with dementia were effectively cast out from society, but the tide is now turning. There are now nearly 1.5 million dementia friends helping to drive this change, and communities up and down the country are working to make streets, towns and cities more inclusive.

"But still many people with dementia face stigma and a health and care system that simply does not work for them - resulting in emergency hospital admissions, extended stays and desperate loneliness.

"We look forward to leading the continued transformation of society and investment in research so that, by 2020, people with dementia get the support they need every day of the year - whether that be at home, in residential care, hospital or in the wider community."

David Mayhew, the Prime Minister's dementia envoy and chairman of Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "The UK is leading the way in the fight against dementia, and this blueprint once again shows real leadership from the UK Government in its efforts to tackle the condition."

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