Dementia research to get over 300m as all NHS staff to be given training in the condition

Dementia research to get over 300m as all NHS staff to be given training in the condition

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.

"Dementia is one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime, and I am proud that we are leading the world in fighting it," Mr Cameron said.

"Because of the growing strength of our economy, we can invest in research and drug development, as well as public understanding, so we defeat this terrible condition and offer more hope and dignity for those who suffer.

"That way, we can help make Britain a country that offers security in retirement for all."

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."

By Jennifer Cockerell,

The Independent, Saturdsay 21 Jannuary 2015

View this article