The families of people living with dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are being left to pay the lion's share of care bills because the state won't support them.
The Alzheimer's Society claims this costs families the equivalent of £21,000 a year - amounting to what they're calling "a dementia tax". The charity is calling on the government to help with the growing financial burden.
ITV News Correspondent Nina Nannar reports.
The Government has defended its efforts to help with the cost of dementia care, pointing to its policy of improving diagnosis rates, doubling research funding and capping the amount families have to pay.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:
I want to make sure those with dementia, their families and carers get the help they need. It's precisely because people face such unfair care costs that we are transforming the way people pay for care, capping the amount they have to pay and providing more financial help.
To tackle this devastating condition, we are also doubling funding for research, pushing the NHS to improve diagnosis rates and post-diagnostic support, and focusing national attention on dementia like never before.
Some £5.8 billion in dementia care is paid for out British families' pockets, a health charity has warned.
Research released by Alzheimer's Society found:
- Families and friends put in 1.3 billion hours of unpaid care.
- This would cost the state £11.6 billion if it was not provided by this support network for free.
- Overall, researchers have calculated that the cost of dementia to the UK - through health and social care costs - has hit £26 billion a year.
- But people with the condition, their carers and families shoulder two-thirds of the cost - approximately £17.4 billion annually.
Dementia sufferers and their families are being forced to pay as much as £21,000 for adequate care, despite the state paying for other long-term conditions, a health charity has said.
Hundreds of thousands of people with dementia are having to pay themselves because of holes in state care, the Alzheimer's Society said.
The charity said people are being forced to pay a "dementia tax" whereby they have paid tax all their working lives contributing towards the NHS but when they become ill in later life they pay out again to cover costs of care.
Two reports released by the Alzheimer's Society, from experts at the London School of Economics (LSE) and King's College London, found that 225,000 people in the UK develop the condition every year - or one person every three minutes.
They estimated that there will be 850,000 people affected by the condition by next year. This figure is expected to soar to two million by 2051, they said.
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David Cameron has called for real action by drug companies to tackle what he called one of the greatest enemies of humanity - dementia. The Prime Minister pointed to a market failure, with the launch of only three dementia drugs in 15 years.
ITV News Health Editor, Catherine Jones heard why the lack of new drugs is so distressing:
As the government prepares to double its investments in dementia research, ITV News' Health Editor Catherine Jones, says a cure needs a "global endeavour".
She speaks to Alzheimer's patient Sylvia in this special report.
David Cameron has reiterated his support for ramping up efforts to find a cure, insisting that it should be seen as a disease, rather than as a "natural sign of ageing".
Speaking on Radio 4's You and Yours, he said: "It’s a disease, like other diseases, that medicine should be really marshalling its efforts to crack and to conquer...I think if all the advanced countries of the world actually get their scientists to focus on this, we can make a difference."
The Government is doubling the funding for dementia research to £66m, but Mr Cameron called on other countries to follow the UK's lead and "to work together" to find a cure.
Progress on finding a cure for dementia is "achingly slow", despite the huge cost of the disease, David Cameron's new global dementia envoy has said.
Dr Dennis Gillings called for an effort to fight dementia on a par with that to find a cure for HIV/AIDS, saying: "Dementia is a ticking bomb costing the global economy £350bn and yet progress with research is achingly slow."
"Just as the world came together in the fight against HIV/Aids, we need to free up regulation so that we can test ground-breaking new drugs, and examine whether the period for market exclusivity could be extended," Dr Gillings added.