Charity’s disappointment after extra investment for dementia refused

A LEADING charity for older people has expressed disappointment after investment to improve dementia services was temporarily refused due to financial uncertainty.

NHS Suffolk’s board was asked yesterday to approve funding of �819,497 to develop services, given the predicted increase in the numbers of those suffering from the condition in the future. Although members supported the principle, they agreed to defer funding until later in the year due to concerns over future financial restrictions.

Figures show that the number of people aged over 65 diagnosed with dementia in Suffolk is due to rise from 10,210 this year to 16,352 in 2025.

The investment, proposed by NHS Suffolk’s Practice Based Commissioning Approval Board, was to go towards creating a new early intervention dementia service to give patients the best chance of treatment, and the provision of speech and language therapy. The report by Tracy Dowling, director of strategic commissioning, stated that current early intervention services are fragmented and not enough to support the expected rise in dementia sufferers.

Daphne Savage, Age Concern chief executive, said: “As the county’s leading charity working with older people, who form the largest number of those with dementia, we are very aware of the increasing need for early diagnosis, followed by ongoing support. From the work we already do, and have done for many years, we know that what family carers need is access to advice, information, advocacy and problem-solving as they have enough on their hands with their caring role.

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“We are told that central and local government want to protect frontline services – none is more needed than this one. It is my urgent hope that the NHS Suffolk board will move swiftly at their next meeting.”

Like many health services across the country, the primary care trust is bracing itself for details of its budget under the new Government.

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Julian Herbert, NHS Suffolk’s director of finance, said: “We do not know the future allocation going forward. We hope to get this within the next 50 days. We will look at this again when we know the efficiencies being delivered and what levels of funding we are looking at.”

Martin Smith, a non-executive director, added: “No one could feel more strongly than I do about dementia but we have got to be financially prudent.”

Carole Taylor Brown, NHS Suffolk’s chief executive, said: “Members of the public can see the scope of challenges facing the PCT. We have a statutory duty to balance our books.”

It was agreed that the board supported the investment bid in principle but the decision has been deferred. If the investment had been approved, it was planned that the service would start in September this year. However this will now be delayed.

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