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Government's five year National Dementia Srategy

03 February 2009

Sube Banerjee, Professor Mental Health and Ageing, Institute of Psychiatry at King’s, co-authors the Government’s five-year National Dementia Strategy, unveiled today 

700,000 in the UK have dementia and this costs us £17 billion per year.  In response to this and projections that in just 30 years the numbers will rise to 1.4 million and the costs to £50 billion, the Government commissioned Professor Sube Banerjee to co-author a strategy outlining a five-year plan to assist dementia sufferers and their carers.  The plan has three aims: to improve public attitudes to and awareness of dementia; to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment; and to improve the quality of care provided to people with dementia and their carers.

The Government has pledged £150 million in extra funds for the implementation of the first two years of the strategy and promises the following action:  a nationwide network of ‘memory clinics’ to provide early diagnosis and treatment; extra training for GPs to spot dementia warning signs; dementia advisers to help patients and their families; wider provision of older people's community mental health teams to asses patients in care homes and to help minimise the use of anti-psychotic medication; better education and training for professionals; better evidence on research needs on the causes of and treatment for dementia; better information for people with dementia, their carers and families after diagnosis; dementia experts in hospitals and care homes; and improved public awareness to help alleviate stigma.

Professor Banerjee said:  'There is a strategic imperative for us to plan for dementia and to generate services that can better manage dementia and provide good quality care.  Dementia is a growing problem the world over - as the number of people living longer increases so does the number of people with dementia.  Currently there are 700,000 people with dementia in the UK which will double in 30 years to 1.4 million.  The cost to the UK is currently at £17 billion per annum and is estimated grow to over £50 billion in same 30 year period.'

One of the components of the plan is ‘memory clinics’.  Memory clinics are ‘one-stop shops’ offering expert assessment, advice, information and support for people who are experiencing memory problems, as well as access to other services, like social services or voluntary agencies.  The clinics will also aim to raise the profile of dementia and improve the quality of treatments.  The clinics could be in hospitals, GP surgeries or on the high street.  Key data on the clinical and cost effectiveness of such services were generated by service innovation and evaluation carried out by Professor Banerjee and his clinical and research teams at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Psychiatry at King’s, which found that this method of early intervention was clinically and cost effective and could see all new cases in a given area. 

Professor Banerjee continues: 'One of the major themes of this plan is to enable everyone with dementia to find out early in their illness that things can be done to help them and their carers.  At present we have no cure but there are many things that we can do positively to help people’s quality of life. . The fundamental value of memory services such as this is that knowledge about diagnosis is power for the people with dementia and their carers, without it they cannot access treatments that are of benefit and with it they can plan for the future and make choices for themselves that can prevent harm and promote good quality of life in the 7 to 12 years that they may live with the illness.  Ignorance of diagnosis is not bliss for the very large majority of people with dementia and their carers, ignorance is confusion, distress, and despair and the National Dementia Strategy will enable this to change this using lessons learnt from the Croydon Memory Service.'

As well as Professor of Mental Health and Ageing, Institute of Psychiatry at King’s, Professor Banerjee is Clinical Director Mental Health of Older Adults, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Head of the Centre for Innovation and Evaluation in Mental Health, Institute of Psychiatry at King’s, and Senior Professional Advisor, Older People’s Mental Health, Department of Health.

Further information about the National Dementia Strategy:





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