I can assure you that dementia is a priority for the Government. I have made representations to the Chancellor as requested but he will not respond before the Budget.
In 2015, the Challenge on Dementia 2020 was launched and I know that the Government remains committed to delivering this. This sets out the vision for dementia care, support, awareness, and research to be transformed by 2020. I fully support the ambition to ensure England offers the world’s best dementia care. Progress in the care, support and treatment of people with dementia has been made, with more people receiving a diagnosis of dementia than ever before. Over 660,000 NHS staff have received dementia training with further training opportunities rolled out to all NHS staff by the end of 2018. Over 100,000 social care workers have received some form of dementia awareness training. Since 2015, new care staff have been trained to receive the Care Certificate, which equips them with the knowledge and skills to provide safe and compassionate care, including for those with dementia.
I believe it is important to increase public awareness and understanding of dementia among the wider public to ensure that people are supported to live well with the condition and I am encouraged that there are almost 2.5 million Dementia Friends.
Research is crucial to understanding and tackling dementia, which is why the Government has doubled research spending on dementia and remains committed to maintaining the current expenditure on dementia research of at least £60 million a year through to 2020. I am encouraged that over £83 million was spent on dementia research by the Government in 2016/17, the latest year for which figures are available, well in excess of the £60 million target.
The Government is integrating and improving health and social care to protect people at every stage of their lives. I am informed that the Government is committed to publishing a Green Paper this year, which will outline a new social care policy, which is financially sustainable, accessible, and properly integrated with the NHS.
As part of the work to prepare the social care green paper, I understand my colleagues in DHSC are considering proposals from the Alzheimer’s society regarding the establishment of a dementia fund, designed to offer a source of funding to help those who need financial support for the additional costs associated with dementia treatment and care.
As I am sure you are aware, the Prime Minister recently announced the Government’s intention to provide the NHS with an additional £33.9 billion by 2023/24; this is the largest, longest funding settlement in the history of the NHS. This landmark settlement investment to help secure the long term future of our NHS is extremely welcome, and I hope you agree it demonstrates the Government’s commitment to properly funding our NHS and public services. As part of this, there is a commitment to improving detection, with more targeted screening and Rapid Access Diagnostic Centres, so that in 10 years’ time these measures will help achieve 55,000 more people surviving cancer each year, and 100,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases being prevented.
The Accelerated Access Collaborative was set up in 2018 to speed up the time it takes for patients to benefit from ground-breaking products for conditions such as cancer, dementia and diabetes. The AAC has already selected and supported 12 ‘rapid uptake products’ to increase their use within the NHS. Together the products have the potential to improve the lives of around 500,000 patients and save the NHS up to £30 million.
We need to have a system to give every person the dignity and security that they deserve. This is a significant and complex challenge and in order to lay the foundations, we must plan for the infrastructure, workforce growth and healthcare integration that is required for a care system fit for the 21st century. Because this is a long-term problem that will affect so many people, any solution has to be able to survive long-term. We must build the same level of consensus on social care as we have already built on the NHS. So we will build a cross-party consensus to bring forward an answer that solves the problem, commands the widest possible support, and stands the test of time. That consensus will consider a range of options but one condition we do make is that nobody needing care should be forced to sell their home to pay for it.