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MPs urge help for dementia carers - Carers UK Forum

MPs urge help for dementia carers

For issues specific to caring for someone with dementia.
MPs urge help for dementia carers

http://ukpress.google.com/article/ALeqM ... Z0AOrcQ_KQ

Carers looking after relatives with dementia are "in no way" receiving the support they need from the healthcare system, an influential MPs' committee has said.

Informal carers save the taxpayer £5 billion a year by looking after dementia sufferers at home, but many feel "abandoned" after diagnosis, with fewer than half receiving the assessment of their needs to which they are entitled, said the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The committee called for dementia to be given the same priority as cancer and heart disease in the NHS and urged the Department of Health to appoint a dementia tsar to drive through improvements in diagnosis, treatment and care.

Dementia affects 560,000 people in England - predicted to rise to 1 million by 2031 and 1.4 million by 2051. It was the cause of 3% of all deaths in 2005 and may have contributed to 13%.

The range of progressive, terminal brain diseases known as dementia cost the health and social care economy in England £14.3 billion a year - more than cancer, heart disease and stroke combined.

But, in a report, the PAC said attitudes towards the condition were comparable to the approach to cancer in the 1950s, when patients were commonly not told their diagnosis for fear of distressing them.

Up to two-thirds of patients never receive a formal diagnosis, in part because medical professionals feel little can be done to help them. Almost a quarter of GPs regard dementia patients as "a drain on resources with little positive outcome", found the report.

The UK ranks in the bottom third of European healthcare system for the prescription of key anti-dementia drugs. But the PAC said there was "clear evidence" that early diagnosis and intervention improve outcomes for both patients and carers.

The report also raised concern about standards of care offered on home visits and in care homes, with poorly trained and badly paid staff, many of whom do not speak English as their first language.

The PAC urged the Department of Health to commission a dementia awareness campaign and to order local health chiefs to develop action plans which give priority to assessing and meeting the needs of carers.