Dame Barbara Windsor calls for £2.4bn NHS dementia fund

Author: Mark Gould

Actor Dame Barbara Windsor presented an open letter signed by more than 100,000 people calling on prime minister Boris Johnson to fix the crisis in social care. The letter calls on Mr Johnson to sort out the devastating state of dementia care through immediate investment in a £2.4bn NHS Dementia Fund while addressing long-term reform for the social care system as a priority.

The Society believes that if the NHS can demonstrate they don’t have sufficient funds, then the government must provide additional resources.

Dame Barbara, veteran of the Carry On films and TV soap EastEnders, was diagnosed with dementia in 2014. She and her husband Scott Mitchell are Alzheimer's Society Ambassadors and have been active in a campaign that has called on successive governments to provide a long-term funding solution to end the social care crisis. The Society says the social care crisis is a dementia crisis – 60% of people using home care and 70% of people in care homes have dementia.

The Society says dementia is the biggest health and care challenge facing us today, yet the care system is broken, completely ill-equipped to support the hundreds of thousands of people who need it.

It says that for people with dementia, getting access to care is often difficult and in some areas impossible, and care that is available is of hugely variable quality and unaffordable for far too many. People with dementia and their families typically spend at least £100,000 and their care is 15% more expensive than standard social care - just because they were unlucky enough to have developed dementia and not some other disease.

And it says the NHS is haemorrhaging millions, an avoidable £570 million each year due to inadequate care in the community. This leaves people with dementia vulnerable, ending up in hospital with avoidable infections, or stuck on wards unable to return home due to the lack of support at home.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: "The system is completely unprepared to support the growing numbers of people receiving a dementia diagnosis. How much more evidence is needed?

"Charities, businesses, the NHS and social care leaders themselves are united in exposing the alarming state of social care and the urgency needed to address it. We must end the dementia tax - we need an NHS Dementia Fund to address the most immediate needs while we must urgently see a long-term solution for social care being made a priority."

Dame Barbara, Mr Mitchell and Alzheimer's Society officials chatted with Mr Johnson in the garden of 10 Downing Street. In a statement Dame Barbara said: "Thank you all so much for your support in signing the letter to our new prime minister. It means so much to me. Let’s make this happen, and fix dementia care."

According to a report in The Guardian Mr Johnson gave Dame Barbara his assurances that he would look into the issue. "We'll do this. It's very hard. We have to sort it out," he said. "I am going to do my best for you. It's a big job."

Image courtesy of the Alzheimer's Society