Tracey Crouch is Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford
All blogs are the views of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Age.
Last month, with the support of cross-party colleagues, I tabled an Early Day Motion welcoming the government’s commitment to improving care and services for people with dementia, while recognising that the National Dementia Strategy and Prime Minister’s Challenge have been fundamental in achieving these improvements. It also, however, calls for the commitment to and publication of a renewed Dementia Strategy.
In a debate we secured with the Backbench Business Committee last November, I highlighted that the prime minister’s challenge on dementia for England has provided a welcome focus on the treatment and care of people living with dementia and the search for a cure. But there is a danger that the focus will be lost, especially as the initiative is not UK-wide but covers only England.
Many countries have dementia strategies or brain bank initiatives, and the UK needs a new long-term strategy because the current one is due to expire at the end of next month. Notably, the US has a dementia strategy in place through to 2025, which means that we could be left in the embarrassing situation of the UK government leading the G8 discussions on dementia without a national long-term commitment comparable with that of many of their international partners.
I was delighted that Secretary of State, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, offered his reassurances that the national dementia strategy is here to stay. He assured us that it is to be refreshed and updated and that the government is subscribing to some big new ambitions. This is very welcome news. Yet six weeks later, with only three weeks left until the current strategy expires, we are yet to see any signs of a publication.
We must be clear that being a global leader on this issue is about not only holding a G8 summit, but putting into practice what we are saying back at home. The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State have the support across all parties in the House of Commons and the Health and Care sector in bringing forward a renewed strategy as the best way to guarantee continued progress across the whole of the UK.
The Alzheimer’s Society put it best, saying: “When facing a problem of this scale, it is essential to set out future ambitions and allocate necessary funding to deliver real change for people with dementia and their carers. The government must now set out in detail its plans for a refreshed long-term vision for dementia.”
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