| 10.7°C Belfast

Dementia gets £300m and training


The Government will spend more than £300m on dementia research

The Government will spend more than £300m on dementia research

The Government will spend more than £300m on dementia research

More than £300 million is to be spent by the Government on research into dementia while all NHS staff will have to undergo training in the condition, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced.

Outlining new plans to tackle what he described as "one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime", he said an international dementia institute will be established in England over the next five years in a bid to make the UK a world leader for research and medical trials.

A separate multimillion-pound fund will be launched within weeks to help establish a large-scale, international investment scheme to discover new drugs and treatment that could slow down the onset of dementia or even deliver a cure by 2025, Mr Cameron said.

Some 1.3 million NHS workers, from surgeons to hospital porters, will be given training in how to give those with dementia the best possible standards of care.

Meanwhile there are plans to give three million more "dementia friends" training in how to give those around them with the condition support.

The global fund will see investors from the private, public and philanthropic sectors unite under a single scheme to finance a range of research projects into the disease.

There are approximately 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, with the number expected to hit a million within the next 10 years.

Other pledges include having the majority of people in England living in "dementia-friendly communities" in five years' time by making shops, transport and other public places more accessible to people with the condition.

Faster assessments by GPs are also included in the Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia 2020.

Initial dementia assessments will take place in an average of six weeks and will be followed by better onward support such as informing sufferers of local services that can help them as well as advice for their carers.

As part of the initiative, businesses including Marks and Spencer, Asda and Lloyds banking group will train their staff to become dementia friends.

Mr Cameron marked the announcement by meeting people with dementia and dementia friends.

He spent around an hour discussing the various issues that affect dementia sufferers and explained what impact he hopes the new investment will have.

Speaking during the visit to the Clare Charity Centre in Saunderton, Buckinghamshire, the Prime Minister said: "What today's announcement is about is a very simple but bold ambition, and that is to make the United Kingdom the best place on the planet in terms of researching into dementia, in terms of diagnosing people with dementia and then in terms of treating, helping and caring for them.

"Not just hospitals and care homes, but the whole of our country making dementia friendly communities.

"We have gone a huge way in the last five years of really putting this issue on the map and now we are making very bold announcements for the future."

World dementia envoy Dennis Gillings said: "Awareness of dementia is increasing and action is being taken, and that will ensure the condition is managed far better in our society. More treatments are on the horizon but we must continue to invest in research and drug development. David Cameron's outstanding leadership is having a huge effect. "

Hilary Evans, charity director at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "Over the past three years we've seen the Prime Minister's challenge play a pivotal role in creating a heightened focus on dementia and boosting the case for more research.

"Alzheimer's Research UK is proud to have spearheaded the research challenge and successfully launched a number of pioneering global initiatives that will bring us ever closer to finding a cure.

"Since 2012, we've launched a £100 million fundraising campaign which, in addition to our existing research projects, will see a pioneering new Stem Cell Research Centre, a powerful network of world-class Drug Discovery Institutes to fast-track new treatments and a Global Clinical Trials Fund to allow new treatments to reach people sooner.

"Today represents an opportunity to reflect on the progress made so far, but we owe it to the 850,000 people in the UK with dementia to build on this work with even bolder commitments.

"It is vital that we continue to energise a movement across society to improve the lives of people with dementia and that research into the condition continues to be a priority."

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "Our researchers, staff and volunteers who are delivering support to people with dementia nationwide now sit as part of a national movement more than a million strong. Dementia Friends is truly changing attitudes and capturing the public's attention.

"Together we are transforming lives today and reaching out for preventative treatments and a cure tomorrow. This Government has rightly prioritised dementia.

"We would all acknowledge the work that remains to be done, but the PM deserves credit for the phenomenal achievement in getting dementia on the national and global agenda and this has resulted in significant progress."

Jane Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, said: "We warmly welcome the Prime Minister's announcement on dementia diagnosis, research and awareness.

"This is an area where the UK is genuinely ahead of other countries, but it is essential to continue that progress as dementia continues to have a cruel impact on those affected by it - those with dementia themselves but also their families and carers.

"With little sign of a cure or effective treatment for dementia in the short term, it is also vital that - in addition to the measures outlined today - we provide more support through our currently under-funded social care system."