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National Dementia Strategy

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 30th March 2010.

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Photo of Richard Ottaway Richard Ottaway Conservative, Croydon South 2:30 pm, 30th March 2010

What mechanism will be used to audit spending on the national dementia strategy.

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Minister of State (the East Midlands), Regional Affairs, Minister of State (the East Midlands), Department of Health

Dementia is a national priority and we are already spending over £8 billion a year on dementia in health and social care. The mechanism for the audit of the first ever national dementia strategy, which I published last year, is under development. We will consider how money is spent as a whole in health and social care for people with dementia, and that will form part of a wider review of dementia services.

Photo of Richard Ottaway Richard Ottaway Conservative, Croydon South

The strategy contains an outline of a proposal that employers should look for signs of dementia among employees. In the event that that happens, will he assure me that there will be training for employers in that process, and safeguards against discrimination against older employees?

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Minister of State (the East Midlands), Regional Affairs, Minister of State (the East Midlands), Department of Health

Yes, employers will certainly not be able to discriminate against older people, but it is important that we have raised general public awareness of dementia. For too long, dementia has been ignored or not recognised, and people therefore do not come forward for diagnosis by their GP or specialist memory clinic. As a result, they do not get a diagnosis for two or even, on average, three years, when the dementia has progressed. That means that we do not intervene early enough, and that means that we do not help people live with dementia well enough or hold back the progression of the disease. I hope that the wider public, as well as professionals in the health and social care system, will be able to identify early signs and refer people to appropriate specialists, and so ensure that people get the early intervention that they need.

Photo of David Drew David Drew Labour, Stroud

Will my hon. Friend ensure that as part of the audit we look at the cost and value of day centres? Too often nowadays it appears that local authorities, in particular, are trying to run down day centre services when those are often the only means by which people with dementia can get out of their homes. That is surely a retrograde step.

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Minister of State (the East Midlands), Regional Affairs, Minister of State (the East Midlands), Department of Health

I understand my hon. Friend's concerns. One of the directions of travel that we wish to pursue is the idea that individuals might have a personal budget so that they can take more control over the care that is provided to them. Carers and the person with dementia will then be able to use their resources to ensure that they have the services that they need. We wish to ensure that services for people with dementia, possibly through peer support and other aspects of effective dementia care that we are demonstrating in this the first year of the strategy, are made available more widely throughout the country.

Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright Opposition Whip (Commons)

Has the Minister had the opportunity to look at the latest report of the all-party group on dementia on what has happened to money allocated for the implementation of the national dementia strategy? If so, does he share my concern that very few of the PCTs that were asked could tell us what they had done with their share of the £60 million allocated for the first year of the strategy, or at least explain how what they had done with it related specifically to dementia? Can we do better for next year?

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Minister of State (the East Midlands), Regional Affairs, Minister of State (the East Midlands), Department of Health

The hon. Gentleman is chair of the all-party parliamentary group, which has done sterling work under his leadership during the past year to raise the profile of the needs of people with dementia and the need to provide better services for them. I congratulate him and his colleagues from all parties. The audit that I described earlier is designed to track progress in implementation of the strategy's objectives. We will be looking at a whole range of factors, such as the number of dementia leads in hospitals, which is a key part of the strategy, the number of established memory services, and the use of anti-psychotic drugs, another issue that he and I share a concern about and on which we wish to see rapid progress.