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Dementia Diagnosis and Care

Volume 596: debated on Tuesday 2 June 2015

Following a sustained effort to improve dementia diagnosis rates in the last Parliament I am pleased to report that in England we now diagnose 61.6% of those with dementia, which we believe is the highest diagnosis rate in the world. But there is much work to be done to make sure that the quality of dementia care post diagnosis is as consistent as it should be.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. A long-standing Weaver Vale constituent, Mrs Gladys Archer, successfully looked after her husband for many, many years at home until he was admitted to hospital for a routine operation. Following a misdiagnosis, he has had to go into a care home with all the personal cost and trials and tribulations that that involves. Will my right hon. Friend look into that case, and highlight what measures are in place and how we can improve matters so that we can stop patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia suffering when they are admitted to hospital?

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that case and I will happily look into it. That is a perfect example of why we need to change the way we look after people with long-term conditions, such as dementia, out of hospital. If we can improve the care that we give them at home and give better support to people such as that man’s wife, we can ensure that the kind of tragedy my hon. Friend talks about does not happen.

Unpaid family carers play a key role in the care of people with dementia, many with heavy caring workloads of 60 hours a week or more. Can the Health Secretary understand how fearful carers now are of talk of cutting their eligibility for carer’s allowance and will he fight any moves within his Government to do that?

I absolutely recognise the vital role that carers play and will continue to play, because we will have 1 million more over-70s by the end of this Parliament, and we need to support them. I hope that she will recognise that we made good progress in the previous Parliament with the Care Act 2014, which gave carers new rights that they did not have before.

18. Two weeks ago, it was dementia friendly care week and I had the pleasure of spending a part of that at a picnic in the village of Corfe Mullen in Mid Dorset and North Poole. Does my right hon. Friend agree that although much progress has been made in diagnosis, there is still a long way to go in terms of care, especially for those individuals in Mid Dorset and North Poole? (900020)

I welcome my hon. Friend warmly to his place; he hits the nail on the head. We had a big problem with diagnosis—less than half of the people who had dementia were getting a diagnosis—and we have made progress on that. It is still the case that in some parts of the country, although I hope not in Mid Dorset, when someone gets a diagnosis not a great deal happens. We need to change that, because getting that support is how we will avoid tragedies such as that in Weaver Vale, which we heard about earlier.

The Secretary of State knows that the availability of social care for vulnerable older people has a big impact on the NHS, especially for people with dementia, yet 300,000 fewer older people are getting help compared with 2010. Given that the Secretary of State has said that he wants to make improving out-of-hospital care his personal priority, can he confirm that there will be no further cuts to adult social care during this Parliament, which would only put the NHS under even more pressure?

I can confirm that we agree with the hon. Gentleman and the Opposition that we must consider adult social care provision alongside NHS provision. The two are very closely linked and have a big impact on each other. I obviously cannot give him the details of the spending settlement now, but we will take full account of that interrelationship and recognise the importance of the integration of health and social care that needs to happen at pace in this Parliament.