Dementia - a Political Football?
People in England living with dementia are feeling let down.
And who can blame us?
The latest version of a long-term "plan" to address our needs seems to have quietly been abandoned.
The much trumpeted "TEN YEAR PLAN FOR DEMENTIA" announced by the then Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid at the Alzheimer's Society Conference in London in May last year seems to have been quietly abandoned.
Perhaps I'm wrong. I've Googled my fingertips raw, trying to find any trace of the Plan or a firm statement of its cancellation, but so far, I have yet to find anything concrete.
I was there at the Conference. Stirring stuff from Mr Javid...
"I'm really excited about this – and I'm excited to work with all of you to get it right."
Said Mr Javid.
"Because it's no exaggeration to say that our future depends on it.
We're at the crossroads. All of us here today, we understand the challenges that lie ahead. When it comes to dementia, we know there have never been any quick fixes. We know there aren't any easy wins.
But we also know that when a visionary plan comes together, with powerful partners and proper funding – and we couple it with care and compassion – that combination can be unbeatable".
How we all applauded his commitment and that of his government...
Within a week, he was gone, replaced, as the revolving door of party politics ejected him onto the metaphorical pavement!
After that, things seemed to go quiet. Still plenty of vague assurances on the imminent publishing of the Plan and its "focus on supporting people with their specific health and care needs while living with dementia".
So we waited.
Then on January 24th, the latest Health and Social Care Secretary, Mr Stephen Barclay, stepped up to the dispatch box in the House of Commons and announced a new "Major Conditions Strategy".
Conditions covered by the strategy will include:
chronic respiratory disease
mental health conditions
The dedicated Ten Year strategy for Cancer has definitely been scrapped, but since that day, a curtain of silence seems to have descended on the future of the much vaunted Ten Year Plan for Dementia.
Now, while there is no doubt that ANY long-term strategy is a welcome development, A glance at the Major Conditions Strategy shows that its purpose is NOT closely aligned to those hinted at in the Ten Year Plan for Dementia. Indeed, it seems the government has decided that the best way to tackle dementia is simply to promote healthy living!
How this will help those struggling to find an early diagnosis or to find and fund adequate care is unclear to me.
So I've come to a conclusion...
There is a small town in New South Wales, Australia, called Kickatinalong, and that's what the government has done to our much-needed and anticipated strategy - kicked the tin along the road beyond the next general election.
This casual abandonment of much-needed reform is very disappointing and has let down so many people whose lives are affected by dementia.
Our friends in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are better served than their Engish counterparts in many respects, and the disparity continues to grow as they eagerly embrace co-production and collaboration while we need to catch up.
We are many. We are courted for our support - especially at election time. ANY political party that fails to deliver on its promises should beware of losing the support of those it has let down.
Please don't treat the dementia community as "useful idiots"!
Don't build us up and then knock us down.
Don't promise us "Jam tomorrow" when you know that tomorrow will never come - it's cruel.
Do YOU have any concrete evidence of what has become of the Ten Year Plan for Dementia? Please pop a link in the Comments to any information that you find.