A cut in the use of anti-psychotic drugs for patients with dementia is among a number of pledges put forward by a new coalition of 44 organisations.
The Dementia Action Alliance, which includes the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, Alzheimer’s Society, BUPA, Dementia UK, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of General Practitioners and Stroke Association, is coming together to launch a charter to improve the lives of sufferers.
About 145,000 people with dementia are being wrongly prescribed powerful anti-psychotic medication, according to a government-commissioned review.
The drugs, used to treat aggression, agitation, shouting and sleep disturbance, cause around 1,800 deaths a year.
Ruth Sutherland, interim chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said the alliance provided an “unprecedented opportunity to bring about real change for people with dementia”.
She said: “Putting dementia on the map in such a way will not only transform lives but also has the potential to save millions of pounds.
“There are 750,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this costs the country £20 billion a year.
“It is without doubt the health and social crisis of this generation so this joint approach cannot come soon enough.”
Care services minister Paul Burstow said: “This Dementia Declaration shows tremendous commitment from across health and care services and the voluntary sector, to transform services and tackle stigma to make a difference for people with dementia and their families.
“Willingness to join forces to act should spur more organisations to join this movement for change.”
The declaration has seven aims, including the reduction in the use of anti-psychotics and patients having more control over decisions, being part of a community and living in an enabling and supportive environment.
In a letter to the Telegraph, 25 members of the alliance wrote: “This is a national action plan that allows us to work in partnership to combine our reach, expertise and membership to defeat dementia.
“Our goal is a future where people get an early diagnosis, receive the help they need and ultimately where research delivers a cure. Together we can tackle dementia.”
Mr Burstow and Ms Sutherland will launch the declaration at a Department of Health conference on improving dementia care in central London today.