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Volume 551: debated on Tuesday 23 October 2012

Tackling dementia—particularly the shockingly low diagnosis rates—is a key priority for me and the Prime Minister.

I welcome the Government’s steps to support carers and the work they have done, especially on the £400 million to give carers’ breaks from their important responsibilities. Will my right hon. Friend explain what is being done to increase awareness and understanding of carers’ health care needs?

My hon. Friend is right to highlight this point. In the draft Care and Support Bill, local authorities will be required to meet the eligible needs of carers. That is a particular concern with dementia, because, all too often, someone looking after a partner with dementia gets to a tipping point where there is no alternative to residential care, but, if we can give them better support, they will have a better chance of remaining at home, which, in the vast majority of cases, is where they want to be.

Many elderly people with dementia remain trapped in hospital, because there is not adequate provision in the community for them to be looked after at home. How does the Secretary of State intend funds to be extracted from hospitals to be spent in the community, particularly at a time when local authority funding cuts mean that many of the voluntary agencies providing that support are actually losing posts in my borough?

The hon. Lady is right to highlight this growing issue. One million people will have dementia by 2020, so we have to take it very seriously. It is not an either/or situation, though, because about 25% of patients in hospitals have dementia, and hospitals would like them placed in the community or at home, where they can be better looked after. This is one of those examples where, under the new reforms, we need much greater integration of services to ensure that those people are treated in the way they need to be.