Nottinghamshire actress and Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Vicky McClure has delivered a letter today, signed by more than 3,300 people across the East Midlands, to prime minister Rishi Sunak, demanding the Government urgently fulfil their promise on dementia.
The letter urges Rishi Sunak to deliver on previous Conservative Party commitments – promising to deliver a ‘visionary ten-year plan’ for dementia, to reform the social care system and double spending on dementia research by 2024 – and not let the UK’s biggest killer fall down the political agenda.
Vicky said: “Government is failing people with dementia. I’ve seen this first-hand with members of my Our Dementia Choir who are left struggling and alone after a diagnosis, unsure where to get the support they so desperately need. Social care workers that they depend on are often utterly broken and exhausted, trying to provide care while being overstretched, under-paid, and under-trained by a deep workforce crisis. Those who care for people with dementia need to be supported; not neglected during a workforce crisis.
“People living with dementia and their carers must get the basic care and support they need to live fulfilled lives – things like breaks for carers, music therapy, and support groups. We’ve heard lots of ambitious words from the Government about dementia, but words need to become action. Rishi Sunak must make dementia a priority.”
Joining Vicky is Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Dame Arlene Phillips, with Debbie Abrahams MP and Chair of the All Party Group on Dementia, Elliot Colburn MP and Ananga Moonesinghe of Luton, who lives with dementia.
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 risks leaving people with dementia desperate for help while living costs soar. According to a recent survey, there are an estimated 165,000 vacancies in adult social care across England, including 15,500 across the East Midlands.
“Dementia awareness and support has come a long way since the disease came into my family sixteen years ago – but there is still so much to do. Too many people still face dementia alone, and PM Rishi Sunak has the chance to seize this moment and genuinely transform dementia research, diagnosis, and care for one of the biggest health challenges in the UK.
“We’ve welcomed previous commitments from the Government, but we’re concerned they’re falling by the wayside. The recommitment to the National Dementia Mission – to double dementia research spend – was a promising step, but we’re yet to see tangible action, while progress on the ten-year plan on dementia has stalled and social care reform scrapped.
“When asked for an update, the Government have told us ‘in due course’ 25 times, which isn’t good enough – sadly dementia doesn’t wait for ‘due course’. Quite simply dementia is not a priority.
“We’re still in the middle of a tough winter, with one in seven people with dementia stopping or reducing their support services. Families have had to make impossible choices in the face of inadequate care from a broken social care system. But hope is on the horizon – we saw the first ever drug to slow down Alzheimer’s disease late last year, showing that this is a fight we can win.
“Our letter to the prime minister urges for change – a massive reform of social care, a visionary ten-year plan for dementia, and the National Dementia Mission funding to unlock treatments for people now and in the future.”Kate Lee, Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive
“The last Government made clear commitments to drive up dementia research, diagnosis rates and improve care and now it’s up to PM Rishi Sunak to deliver them. Sadly, like thousands of families across the UK, I’ve seen the toll dementia can take, while caring for my own father. People are left desperate and alone with overstretched carers having to decide between giving them a hot meal or a wash.
“When the right care and treatment isn’t available, people with dementia are left at risk of crisis. This letter is loud and clear – deliver on these commitments and give people affected by dementia in this country the care and support they deserve.” – Choreographer and Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Dame Arlene Philips
“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.”Debbie Abrahams, MP and Chair of the All Party Group on Dementia
The delivery of these will be transformational for the lives of the 900,000 people living with dementia, including more than 69,500 estimated to be living with the condition across East Midlands. The Government needs to urgently make these a reality to prevent a deepening crisis in dementia care.