The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia (APPG) has issued a controversial challenge to the NHS to reduce hospital beds by at least 10 per cent and free up £1 billion for community based dementia services.
The call, the first of its kind by a cross party group, comes as the APPG launches its hard hitting report ‘The £20 billion question’. The report looks at dementia care in the community, hospitals and care homes against the current backdrop of NHS and social care budget restraints and a rapidly ageing population.
Up to a quarter of hospital beds are taken up by people with dementia. As well as being costly for the NHS, staying in hospital can also be very traumatic for people with dementia, with many leaving hospital in worse health than when they went in. Making £1 billion available for dementia services such as outreach teams, respite services and better support at home will significantly reduce the number of people needing hospital care. It will also reduce the length of hospital stays as people would be able to return home sooner. Just £141 million could give every person with dementia access to a dementia adviser while £68 million could provide all care homes in the UK with support from NHS services to improve care and reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs.
Baroness Sally Greengross, Chair of the APPG on Dementia, said:
“Dementia currently costs the UK £20 billion a year, and this is set to rise to £27 billion by 2018. Money is consistently being thrown away on poor quality services and inappropriate care for people with dementia. The Dilnot Commission last week put caring for older people firmly in the spotlight, but its recommendations are not yet a reality. Our report shows there are many ways to save money and improve care now.”
Recommendations from ‘The £20 billion question: An inquiry into improving lives through cost effective dementia services’ include focusing on early intervention rather than acute care, providing better dementia training for care staff, and improved co-ordination between health and social care services. The APPG reviewed more than 200 pieces of evidence in the report.