Peers call for more cash for dementia strategy


Peers have called for more to be done to support people with dementia and their families, despite welcoming the government’s national strategy.
They were speaking during a Lords debate on dementia secured by Baroness Murphy, a former professor of old age psychiatry at the University of London and a vice-president of the Alzheimer’s Society.
Baroness Murphy said the national dementia strategy, published in February, had “the potential to be one of this government’s triumphs”.
But she said she worried that the £150 million allocated to primary care trusts to support its implementation would not be enough, particularly as it was not ring-fenced and in some areas might be “rapidly diverted elsewhere the minute the expected NHS period of austerity begins to bite”.
The Conservative peer Baroness Perry, who was recently widowed and whose husband had Alzheimer’s, said the £150 million was “woefully inadequate”.
She called on the present and future governments to improve research, information and support for carers, and the quality of residential care.
Baroness Greengross, a crossbench peer, said the strategy failed to address “the challenges and possible opportunities” of the move towards the personalisation of services, and called for a major public awareness campaign, aided by a national dementia “tsar or champion”.
The Labour peer Baroness Pitkeathley said the dementia strategy needed to be combined with effective implementation of the government’s carers strategy.
Baroness Thornton, replying for the government, said: “The publication of the first ever national dementia strategy this February was an important milestone in raising dementia up the agenda and giving priority to improving dementia services and raising the quality of care.”
She said the Department of Health had provided more than £500,000 for awareness-raising, to support the Alzheimer’s Society’s Worried About Your Memory campaign, with another £1 million to support awareness-raising later this year.
And she said the £150 million of initial funding – as well as £25 million for councils to provide short-term emergency cover for carers – would be followed by further funding later in the strategy’s five-year implementation, as “£150 million would not be adequate if it was all that was there”.
She also promised that those working on the dementia strategy would work closely with the carers strategy team.


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