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NHS redesign must not ignore dementia

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Dementia patients must not be left out Dementia patients must not be left out in NHS redesign

The Health Select Committee's review of how health and social care systems are coping in the tough economic climate, published in January, highlights the need for a radical shake up of how we fund health and social care.

The Committee's chair, Stephen Dorrell MP, said the NHS funding challenge can only be met by rethinking and redesigning the way health services are delivered now. He explained that this should receive more attention than the proposed NHS restructure, which has dominated recent headlines.

Dementia costs the UK £20 billion a year and this is set to rise to £27 billion by 2018. People with dementia occupy a quarter of hospital beds. Many of these people are staying in hospital longer than they need to, which has a detrimental impact on their health and places immense pressure on already stretched NHS budgets.

NHS staff want to provide people with dementia with the best possible care but in many cases they are not equipped with the requisite tools and training to achieve the best outcomes.

Improving dementia services, for example by providing support in the community, can save money and deliver better care for people with dementia.This could also help reduce the number of avoidable hospital visits and help people live well at home.

A shocking 60% of the 750,000 people living with dementia in the UK are undiagnosed. Integrated health and social care is key in dementia care, it could help identify undiagnosed patients and open the door to support, treatment and information.

We will never have a sustainable NHS unless we find a long-term solution to social care. This can only happen if we sort out the woeful communication between the services and end the chronic under-investment in social care.

Now is a golden opportunity to develop a system that is sustainable and fit for purpose. A million people will develop dementia in the next ten years. Good quality care at a fair price cannot come soon enough.

Louise Lakey, policy manager, Alzheimer's Society

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