MPs condemn DoH 'failure' on dementia care

The DoH has failed to give dementia care the same priority as cancer and strokes, despite pledging to do so, MPs say.

The House of Commons committee of public accounts said it felt ‘badly let down' by the DoH's lack of urgency on improving dementia care.

It highlighted that despite agreeing in 2007 that dementia would be a national priority, the DoH did not include it in the NHS Operating Framework that year, nor in 2008 or 2009.

The committee also suggested that those leading the implementation of the national dementia strategy launched in 2009, have ‘failed to ignite passion, pace and drive at the frontline'.

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the GPC, said the reports findings were a ‘little unfair'. He suggested that it is difficult for the government when it has a number of competing priorities but limited resources.

He said: ‘There has been a lot of focus on dementia in recent years. GPs have received quite a bit of information on dementia, and it's certainly much higher profile than before.

‘But the number of people with dementia is rising, so we undoubtedly need to do more.'

The report also reiterated concerns over the ‘inappropriate and excessive' prescribing of antipsychotic drugs for people with dementia. It called for the DoH to ensure every PCT sets a local performance target in an attempt to reduce such prescribing by two-thirds within two years.

The reduction target was also included in a DoH commissioned report last year, which suggested around 1,800 people in the UK with dementia are dying each year as a result of being prescribed antipsychotics.

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