21 Feb 2015

Government pledges dementia research and training

David Cameron announces more than £300m investment into dementia research, while all NHS staff will have to undergo training into understanding the condition.

The prime minister said that dementia was “one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime”, and the UK would become a world leader in tacking the disease by establishing an international dementia institute.

More than 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.

Dementia is one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime, and I am proud that we are leading the world in fighting it Prime Minister David Cameron

Around 850,000 people in the UK suffer from dementia, with the number expected to increase to one million in the next 10 years.

“What today’s announcement is about is a very simple but bold ambition, and that is to make the United Kingdom the best place on the planet in terms of researching into dementia, in terms of diagnosing people with dementia and then in terms of treating, helping and caring for them,” Mr Cameron said.

“Not just hospitals and care homes, but the whole of our country making dementia friendly communities.”

Enough funding?

Professor Nigel Hooper, dementia researcher at the University of Manchester, said that whilst the funding was excellent news, it still falls short of what is required.

“When you compare it with what the funding for cancer research is – which is five times more globally than we have for dementia research – more funding is still required,” Professor Hooper told the BBC.

Read more: what is dementia? The key questions

Meanwhile there are plans to give three million more “dementia friends” training in how to give those around them with the condition support.

Hilary Evans, charity director at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “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.”