NHS organisations will have to publish details about the care they provide for people with dementia to improve local accountability, the government has announced.
Care services minister Paul Burstow announced the move as part of the dementia strategy implementation plan.
The plan prioritises early diagnosis and intervention, the quality of dementia care in general hospitals and the care of those living with dementia in care homes. It also aims to help reduce the use of antipsychotic medication to treat people with dementia.
People will now be able to check local providers are meeting the plan’s goals by accessing published outcomes. It is hoped this will ensure people are given the best care possible.
Mr Burstow said: “Dementia is one of the most important issues that we face as our population ages.
“We spend £8.2bn a year caring for those affected. In this tough economic climate, we must be realistic. It’s not about extra resources but how we can think smarter using the resources we already have.”
He said the implementation plan reflects the government’s priorities: “It’s about getting resources to the people that need them.”
Local organisations will be expected to publish how they are delivering on quality outcomes “so that they can be held to account by local people”.
They will also have to report on levels of antipsychotic drugs use, after a Department of Health report last year found an estimated 180,000 people with dementia were being prescribed the medication.
The report also showed the drugs only had an effect in around a third of cases and there were 1,800 excess deaths per year as a result of their prescription.
The DH estimates there are more than 750,000 people in the UK with dementia and this number is expected to double in the next 30 years. The disease primarily affects older people, but around 15,000 also develop dementia earlier in life.
Alzheimer’s Society interim chief executive Ruth Sutherland said: “This plan is an exciting opportunity to transform
the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. It fully recognises the dementia crisis facing us today and signals that dementia must be made a priority. We now need to put these plans into action.
“Investing sensibly in dementia now will improve people’s lives and could potentially save hundreds of millions of pounds. As a million people develop dementia in the next 10 years everyone has a role to play.”