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UK set to be 'best place in world' for dementia research

David Cameron speaking at a Dementia Friends event in Buckinghamshire. Credit: PA

The UK is set to be the "best place in the world" for dementia research after getting a £300 million cash injection from the government.

Announcing the plans today, David Cameron said: "It is a very simple but bold ambition.

"That is to make the United Kingdom the best place on the planet in terms of researching into dementia, diagnosing people with dementia and then treating, helping and caring for them.

"Not just hospitals and care homes, but the whole of our country making dementia friendly communities."

Charities welcome Cameron's £300m dementia funding

David Cameron at a Dementia Friends event. Credit: PA

Charities have welcomed David Cameron's £300 million funding into dementia research - but an expert has warned more is still needed.

Jane Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, said: "We warmly welcome the Prime Minister's announcement on dementia diagnosis, research and awareness.

"This is an area where the UK is genuinely ahead of other countries, but it is essential to continue that progress as dementia continues to have a cruel impact on those affected by it - those with dementia themselves but also their families and carers."

However, Professor Nigel Hooper, dementia researcher at the University of Manchester, told BBC Breakfast: "£300 million is a great investment and we're really pleased with that.

"But when you compare it with what the funding for cancer research is - which is five times more globally than we have for dementia research - more funding is still required."


Plans to boost dementia diagnosis met with criticism

Plans to pay GPs' practices extra money for diagnosing more patients with dementia have met with a strong response.

Some doctors' groups say the move creates perverse incentives for GPs, but the NHS claims the move will give them more time to make the correct diagnosis.

ITV News Correspondent Nina Nannar reports.

Your experiences with loved ones' dementia diagnosis

The NHS is trying to improve identification of dementia cases by paying GPs to increase diagnosis rates.

We asked our Facebook readers to share their experiences of dementia diagnosis.

It took them three years to diagnose my poor mum. They just kept saying was old age , but as a family we knew it was more.

– Loza Tingley

I was raising concerns back in 2008 to mum's GP. He said it was all in my head. I kept going back but it all fell on deaf ears...Mum was diagnosed in July 2011 with Alzheimer's and Vascular Dementia

– Lisa Evans

I'm a carer and have been for 13 odd years. I recognise dementia when I see it and as carers we have been trained to recognise the possible signs of this awful condition...maybe carers should get the pay rise!

– Rachel Hennessy

The doctor kept saying my dad had dementia [although] we argued it wasn't. Finally he collapsed on a Friday, on the Monday it was confirmed he had a brain tumour and three months to live

– Kim Chappell

We had to practically beg to get a doctor to come out and see my gran who has bad dementia and had taken to her bed

– Amanda Todd


What are the common symptoms of dementia?

Concerns over identifying dementia have prompted NHS England to propose paying GPs extra to increase their diagnosis rates.

The Alzheimer's Society provides a list of some of the common symptoms of the condition.

• Day-to-day memory – difficulty recalling recent events

• Concentrating, planning or organising – difficulties making decisions, solving problems or carrying out a sequence of tasks (eg cooking a meal)

• Language – difficulties following a conversation or finding the right word for something

• Visuospatial skills – problems judging distances (eg on stairs) and seeing objects in three dimensions

• Orientation – losing track of the day or date, or becoming confused about where they are.

British Medical Association opposed to dementia plans

The British Medical Association, which represents doctors and medical students, says it is opposed to proposals to pay GPs for increasing dementia diagnoses.

Many elderly patients are diagnosed with dementia. Credit: Daniel Karmann

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the BMA’s GPs committee, told the Daily Telegraph: “This is not a jointly negotiated enhanced service, it’s something NHS England wanted to do."

"Practices will have to make their minds up as to how they will approach it and I’m sure they will have lots of issues with it.

Cash-for-diagnosis dementia plan 'an ethical travesty'

The former head of the Royal College of GPs has said proposals to pay doctors to diagnose dementia are "an intellectual and ethical travesty".

Dr Iona Spence's comments were echoed by Surrey GP Dr Martin Brunet, who told healthcare magazine Pulse the idea "creates a major conflict of interest that is frankly unethical".

According to the Daily Telegraph, GPs in some parts of the country could be paid as much as £200 per diagnosis under the plan.

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