Responding to the Prime Minister's Dementia Challenge in the South of England

Sir Ian Carruthers, OBE, Chief Executive of NHS South of England, recently wrote to Clinical Commissioning Group Chairs, Directors of Social Services and Primary Care Trust Cluster Chief Execeutives, outlining an ambitious programme of work for the South of England in response to the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge.

Sir Ian’s letter encourages each emerging Clinical Commissioning Group and their Local Authority partners to produce a joint plan on how they address the fourteen actions identified to improve health and care plus their contribution to creating dementia friendly communities and better research.

Sir Ian’s letter outlines the key issues from the Prime Minister’s Challenge, including:

Increase dementia diagnosis rates

Diagnosis rates in the South of England are the lowest in the country and there is clear evidence of the benefits of early diagnosis. The challenge is to improve rates of diagnosis, the diagnosis pathway, the experience of people receiving a diagnosis, and their post-diagnosis support. There will be a national return on reviewing the local data and producing a plan to improve diagnosis rates and Sir Ian asked localities to consider how each locality could achieve a rate of 60% of the estimated local prevalence.

Dementia care in acute and community hospitals

A national dementia CQUIN is being introduced in 2012-13, but this will only make a difference if it is part of a wider work programme within each hospital and linking effectively to social care and community support outside hospital to improve care for people living with cognitive impairment and dementia.

Dementia care in people’s homes

Building on a number of new whole system and collaborative partnerships between health and social care and other key players to support independence and choice for people with dementia living at home, their carers and supporters. This includes the beginning of dementia friendly communities, specialist designed housing, the use of assistive technology and locally based community development.

Dementia care in care homes

Building on the new Compact produced by some care providers and ensuring high quality relationship-based care and support or people with dementia, including the reduction in inappropriate prescribing of antipsychotic medication.

Promoting local information about dementia services

Building on the pilot project in the South West ( with additional information and a roll-out across the South of England by the end of December 2012. An article about Our Health has been published on the Guardian Public Leaders website ( There are opportunities to produce local versions of the site linking with existing information services.

Creating Dementia Clinical Networks

By September 2012 a series of pilots of dementia clinical networks aimed at spreading clinical expertise will be launched and Sir Ian has encouraged the development of some pilots across the South. A discussion paper that has been produced in the South and discussed with Professor Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director for Dementia, is available.