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Debbie Abrahams MP Backs Call for Government to Deliver Promised Funds for Dementia Research

As co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, I led a debate in Parliament on the issue on February 10th, highlighting that without the promised doubling of funding to £166m a year progress in dementia research could grind to a halt.

In the House of Commons, I called on the government to secure the UK’s role as a world-leader in dementia research by committing to its manifesto pledge.

Alzheimer’s Society is also urging the Government to make good on the pledge and says researchers are ‘on the cusp’ of major discoveries which could change the treatment and care of people living with dementia – but urgent funding is needed.

There is hardly anyone who hasn’t been affected by dementia – the human costs are immense for the people living with dementia and the army of family carers and paid carers behind them. But there’s as economic cost too, currently estimated at £34.7bn each year. The Government has failed to fulfil their promise on doubling dementia research – in fact last year it was 10% less than before the pandemic.

We’ve shown through the Covid-19 vaccine development that the UK is a global leader in life sciences research, and can pave the way in making a serious difference to tackling today’s health challenges.

We need to put the same focus on dementia research, and give hope to not just the 900,000 living people with dementia now for the evidence-based care they deserve and ultimately for a cure, but also in diagnostic tools that can be used before dementia symptoms emerge.

The Government have made some big promises on dementia research, it’s now time for these to be delivered and achieve the dementia cure that is well within our reach. For every £1 of Government money, there’s approximately £2 of private investment. If the Government delivered on their promise of £166m a year over the next 10 years, this could bring in nearly £1.8bn, helping to grow our economy with high quality, well paid jobs that benefits Oldham, the UK and the world as a whole.

In parliament, I paid tribute to the 3,000 dementia friends in Oldham East & Saddleworth; including members of the Youth Council and those who participate in my annual Memory Walk around Alexandra Park.

Please see my opening remarks in the debate here and my closing remarks here.

Fiona Carragher, Director of Research and Influencing at Alzheimer’s Society said: “We’re on the cusp of major discoveries in dementia research, with exciting new drugs, treatments and tests just within our grasp – and the chance of cementing the UK’s place as a world leader in the field. But without the ‘dementia moonshot’ funding that was promised more than two years ago in the Conservative manifesto, progress in lifesaving dementia research is under threat. The 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK have been worst hit during the traumatic two years of the pandemic, but we are still not seeing dementia research given the same priority as other conditions. It’s devastating that we’re yet to see the full funding pledge met. As MPs debate this critical issue, we urge the Government to pay attention and unambiguously deliver on their commitments to properly fund dementia research, and as part of an ambitious, well-resourced new National Dementia Strategy.”

The Moonshot is a commitment made by Government that pledges to double dementia research funding from £83m to £166m each year for the next decade, meaning an extra £800m+ for dementia over ten years.  However, researchers and research centres, like the UK Dementia Research Institute, are still waiting to even receive a timescale or a funding plan from the Government to enable them to undertake essential research on new drugs and treatments.

The pandemic has also had a hugely detrimental effect on dementia research, with Alzheimer’s Society’s planned investment in research dropping by 42% in 2019-2020. The Association of Medical Research Charities figures also revealed a drop of £200m in charity investment from 2019 to 2020.

The debate follows the publication of last year’s APPG report conducted with Alzheimer’s Society, Fuelling the Moonshot: Unleashing the UK’s potential through dementia research. The report, which followed an inquiry conducted by APPG members, sets out the current state of dementia research in the UK, and how it can be best supported, including how the Government’s promised Dementia Moonshot could best be utilised.

Since this pledge, people with dementia have been the worst hit by the pandemic, accounting for the most excess deaths with coronavirus, with many others seeing their conditions worsening due to lockdowns and isolation.

Find out more about the work and support carried out by Alzheimer’s Society here: www.alzheimers.org.uk

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