MPs slam DoH for its failure to prioritise dementia care

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

Dementia numbers are rising
Dementia numbers are rising

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 report's findings were a 'little unfair'. He suggested that it is difficult for the government when it has 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 it, and it's certainly got a 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 performance target to reduce such prescribing by two-thirds within two years.

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

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