Dementia 'low priority' despite pledges

Jan. 14, 2010 at 1:16 PM
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LONDON, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Britain's publicly funded healthcare system gives dementia services short shrift despite official promises to the contrary, a national audit report found.

The National Health Service also could not account for $98 million given last year to local organizations for services to treat the serious deterioration of intellectual faculties, the National Audit Office interim report said.

In addition, knowledge of dementia among Britain's general practitioners has not improved in the last five years and there is no basic training in the care of dementia patients, even though three-quarters of hospital patients are over age 70 and dementia cases in England are expected to double in 30 years to more than 1.2 million, the report said.

Action has not "matched the rhetoric in terms of urgency," audit office chief Amyas Morse said. As a result, at least two years of a five-year strategy to transform dementia services has been wasted, office health director Karen Taylor said.

Dementia is set to cost the country $26 billion this year and rise to $57 billion by 2026, the report said.

Care Services Minister Philip Hope, the health department's minister of state, said he welcomed the report and would give "careful consideration" to its recommendations.

"However, it is important to remember that the field work was done five months after the National Dementia Strategy was published," he said. "Our implementation plan is on track."

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