PCTs face checks on dementia services

PCT efforts to improve dementia care are to be audited amid concern about progress on the national dementia strategy, the DoH has said.

Professor Alistair Burns, the DoH national clinical director for dementia in England, said PCTs would need to provide details of spending on memory assessment services.

In a letter to medical directors and chief executives of PCTs and SHAs, Professor Burns stressed the political importance of the strategy.

‘Implementation of the strategy, and appropriate use of the funding, are issues of great interest to ministers, parliament and the public,’ he wrote.

He added: ‘The collection of data on memory services will enable local organisations to monitor progress in this area and allow local populations to hold them to account for their progress.’

Professor Burns said the NHS Information Centre would begin collecting data this month. PCTs and SHAs will be asked whether PCTs currently provide memory assessment services and how much was spent by PCTs on memory assessment services during 2008/9 and 2009/10.

PCTs were allocated £60m in 2009/10 and £90m in 2010/11 to help fund England’s national dementia strategy, but this funding was not ring-fenced.

Staffordshire GP Dr Ian Greaves, who established a memory service in his practice, said dementia needed to be identified early to help make services affordable.

‘Prevalence of dementia is going to double and unless we try to address the problem, we will not be able afford the ongoing cost of care,’ he said.

‘It is important that every area has a dementia strategy that fits with the national strategy and that the money allocated to the strategy is being spent.’

In January 2010 the National Audit Office criticised the lack of hard data on how this money was being used to improve dementia services.

In April 2010, NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson wrote to SHA and PCT chief executives to highlight the issues identified by the National Audit Office.

Sir David said the DoH would audit the provision of dementia services in England.

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