House of Commons Committee condemns lack of priority for dementia

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has criticised the Department of Health’s National Dementia Strategy for not affording dementia “the same status as other national priorities such as cancer and stroke”.

Posted on 16th March 2010

The report laments that “Dementia is like cancer in the 1950s, still very much a hidden disease”.


‘Improving Dementia Services in England – an Interim Report’ reports on the opacity and uncertainty around funding for the government’s National Dementia Strategy, also highlighting regional variations in dementia care, and the importance of dementia research.


Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said:

“The Committee is right to describe dementia as ‘like cancer in the 1950s’; there is still insufficient commitment from government and society as a whole towards defeating dementia.


“We are pleased to hear that the current underfunding of dementia research may soon end, with planned increases in 2011-12 and 2012-13. Dementia costs the UK economy £23 billion each year; with the right investment in research – from government, charities and others – we can beat this terrible set of diseases.”


On dementia research, the Public Accounts Committee report states that:

“Research is acknowledged as a vital component in improving dementia care, yet there was a 7% fall in dementia research funding in the year following our previous hearing in October 2007. The Department explained that its research programme was determined several years in advance and therefore it took time to influence the distribution of such funding. But in recognition of the importance of research, it held a dementia research summit in July 2009 to encourage research in the field of dementia and it expected to see plans coming forward for research with a consequent increase in funding in 2011–12 and 2012–13.”


Earlier this year, the Alzheimer’s Research Trust’s Dementia 2010 report, also found that dementia is given lower priority than other major conditions like cancer, heart disease and stroke. The University of Oxford authored report found that:


       820,000 people in the UK live with dementia.


       Dementia costs the UK economy £23 billion per year. That is twice the cost of cancer (£12 billion per year), three times the cost of heart disease (£8 billion per year) and four times the cost of stroke (£5 billion).


       Combined government and charitable investment in dementia research is 12 times lower than spending on cancer research. £590 million is spent on cancer research each year, while just £50 million is invested in dementia research. Heart disease receives £169 million per year and stroke research £23 million.


       For every £10 in care costs for the disease, £1.30 is spent on cancer research, 73p on heart disease research, 87p on stroke research and just 5p on dementia research.


       Every dementia patient costs the economy £27,647 per year: more than the UK median salary (£24,700). By contrast, patients with cancer cost £5,999, stroke £4,770 and heart disease £3,455 per year.


To view the full Dementia 2010 report, go to

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