Thank you to all those who contacted me about dementia research and treatments.
The needs of people with dementia must move to the top of the agenda. We must prioritise research, because ultimately our goal must be to prevent, treat and cure this heart-breaking condition.
Breakthroughs in research – such as the drugs lecanemab and donanemab – offer hope for delaying symptom progression and slowing the loss of quality of life. Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) described this as a historic moment. But it has expressed concerns over the ability of our health service to deliver any treatments that could be approved for clinical use, particularly as the drugs appear to work in only the earliest stages of the disease, and so early diagnosis is essential.
We should be backing Britain’s world-leading scientists to confront dementia, enhancing the UK science base to achieve 3% of GDP spent on science and research across the economy, between public and private sectors. In the meantime, the Government must keep its pledge to double research funding into dementia by 2024.
As ARUK highlights, transforming dementia diagnosis and social care is equally important to ensure patients can access the first effective Alzheimer’s drugs as soon as they become available.
We must build an NHS fit for the future – providing it with the staff, technology, resources, and reform it needs – to improve dementia diagnosis and care and support more clinical trials in the future. I support a plan to make it easier to conduct life-saving research in the UK with a more standardised process for clinical trials contracting and setup, alongside a strategy to make better use of clinical trials registries to make it easier for more patients to participate.
Despite repeated promises to fix social care, the Chancellor delayed reforms for two years and instead asked councils to increase taxes on working people to plug funding gaps. Meanwhile, the Government has shelved its plan for a dedicated dementia strategy.
People with dementia deserve better. I support a long-term plan for reform of adult social care that will eventually lead to a world-class National Care Service that makes people as proud as the NHS does: transforming access and making sure everyone with dementia who needs care and support can get it when and where they need it. This must start with improving standards in the current system as well as delivering better pay, terms and conditions for care workers.