Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg has pledged to double dementia research funding to £132 million per year by 2020 if put in power at next year's General Election.
The policy, which would put funding five years ahead of the Government’s current commitment, was agreed at the party's annual conference earlier this week [7 October] as part of a motion on creating an ‘age-ready’ Britain.
The motion also included proposals to improve dementia diagnosis rates and care, to reduce the inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs for people with dementia, and to promote dementia friendly communities.
The debate followed a speech from Norman Lamb MP, Minister for Care Services, in which he called for the NHS to shift its emphasis ‘from repair to prevention’, with a focus on helping people to stay healthy, and pledged additional support for carers.
Hilary Evans, director of external affairs at Alzheimer’s Research UK, welcomed the commitment. "[This is] something which Alzheimer’s Research UK has campaigned for to be part of the next government’s action plan to defeat dementia. Investment in research has brought big gains in other disease areas such as cancer: we need to see similar successes in the fight against dementia. Proposals for a greater emphasis on prevention are welcome, and efforts to promote healthy lifestyles should also include actions to promote good brain health and reduce dementia risk.
"The Minister for Care Services rightly highlighted the overwhelming strain that dementia can place on those who are caring for a loved one with the condition. With over 830,000 families in the UK currently facing this battle and that number set to rise, long-term, sustained investment research is crucial if we are to lift the burden of dementia."
Also at the conference, Clegg announced that waiting time targets for some groups of people with mental health problems in England would be introduced by April next year - find out more at www.mentalhealthtoday.co.uk/government-to-introduce-waiting-time-standards-for-mental-health-services.aspx.