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Our Letter to the Prime Minister on Fulfilling Dementia Commitments

Today I joined Alzheimer’s Society Ambassadors Vicky McClure and Dame Arlene Phillips as well as Elliot Colburn MP and Ananga Moonesinghe, who lives with dementia, to deliver an open letter to PM Rishi Sunak at Downing Street, demanding the Government urgently fulfil their promises on dementia.

Launched by leading dementia charity Alzheimer’s Society, the open letter has been signed by over 36,000 members of the public and famous names including Choreographer Dame Arlene Philips and actor Vicky McClure. We were joined at the hand-in by my colleague on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, Vice-Chair Elliot Colburn MP, showing cross-party support. It urges Rishi Sunak to deliver on previous Conservative Party commitments to dementia and not let the UK’s biggest killer fall down the political agenda.

Previous Conservative Prime Ministers have actively committed to improving the lives of people affected by dementia. Now Rishi Sunak must deliver on promises to reform social care, double dementia research funding and release a ten-year plan for dementia which gives the condition the priority it deserves. The 36,000 people who signed the open letter are making themselves clear – they don’t just want to hear empty promises, they want to see action. People with dementia can’t and won’t wait any longer.

With diagnosis rates still sitting below pre-pandemic levels, national figures reveal people are waiting up to two years in some areas for a diagnosis, thereby missing out on vital treatment and support. Alzheimer’s Society research also shows three in five people affected by dementia struggled to get social care in the past year, with half of family carers revealing they ended up in crisis, such as rushing their loved one to A&E due to lack of support

The charity is concerned the deepening workforce crisis in social care – with vacancies sitting at 165,000 – risks leaving people with dementia desperate for help while living costs soar. Alzheimer’s Society say it’s more important now than ever for the Government to prioritise dementia.

In the past year, the Government has made many commitments on dementia, promising to deliver a ‘visionary ten-year plan’ for dementia, to reform the social care system and double spending on dementia research by 2024.  Alzheimer’s Society says the delivery of these will be transformational for the lives of the 900,000 people living with dementia but calls on the Government to urgently make these a reality to prevent a deepening crisis in dementia care.

This follows the news last year that a new drug, lecanemab, was shown to slow cognitive decline in people living with Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, this breakthrough will mean little if diagnosis rates remain stagnant and often inaccurate. This treatment works best for people with early Alzheimer’s disease. Without early and accurate diagnosis, we risk hopeful advancements like this having minimal effect.

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