Thank you for contacting me about dementia and brain health.
Think Brain Health (Alzheimer's Society)
I understand that diagnosis of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, can be devastating and I was proud to stand on a manifesto that committed to making finding a cure for dementia one of the Government's biggest collective priorities through the Dementia Moonshot.
Currently, the NHS Health Check programme aims to raise awareness of the risk factors that affect both heart and brain health. This aims to prevent a range of health issues, including some cases of dementia, among adults aged 40 to 74 years old.
The 2020 Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention found that 40 per cent of worldwide cases could be down to risk factors that we may be able to influence and I pay tribute to the work that the Alzheimer's Society is doing to raise awareness of the importance of good brain health. I have posted an article elsewhere on this website to raise the profile of the importance of keeping engaged and keeping brains healthy as part of the Alzheimer's Society Think Brain Health campaign. It can be accessed here.
I look forward to the publication of the Government's plans on dementia for England later this year. The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities is contributing to the development of this new strategy, which will include a focus on prevention and risk reduction. The concept of brain health in encouraging people to reduce their dementia risk is also being explored.
Dementia Diagnosis and Research
I entirely agree that research is crucial to understanding and tackling dementia, and I was proud to stand on a manifesto that committed to making finding a cure for dementia one of the Government's biggest collective priorities. I look forward to the publication of the dementia strategy later this year, which will focus on the specific health and care needs of people living with dementia and their carers, including dementia diagnosis and research.
The 2021 Spending Review saw £5 billion committed to health-related research and development and I understand that work is ongoing to finalise outcomes from the spending review and to identify ways to significantly boost research on dementia, which is encouraging. I was delighted by the Government's announcement in November of a £375 million investment, over the next five years, to improve understanding and treatment for a range of neurodegenerative diseases, including different types of dementia.
It is disappointing that, due to the impact of the pandemic, the estimated dementia diagnosis rate fell below the national target for the first time since 2016. While the rate has recovered slightly since the early part of the pandemic, there is more to do if we are to reach the national target for two thirds of people with dementia to be formally diagnosed. Last year, £17 million was made available to clinical commissioning groups to address dementia waiting lists and increase the number of diagnoses, which I hope will have an impact in our local area.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP