Press release

Becoming a world-leader for a dementia friendly society, care and research

The Prime Minister has announced his commitment to make the UK a world leader on dementia.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


In England 670,000 people have dementia and the number of people developing the disease is increasing. One in three people will develop dementia and it costs society an estimated £19 billion a year. The Prime Minister today has set out his dementia challenge to society, the medical profession, business and Government, alongside the Alzheimer’s Society publishing their report Dementia 2012: A national challenge.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“Today, the Prime Minister launches his challenge on dementia to tackle one of the most important issues we face arising from an ageing population.

“Dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society and we are determined to transform the quality of dementia care for patients and their families. In England today there are an estimated 670,000 people living with dementia, a number that is increasing with one in three people set to develop dementia in the future.

“That is why the Challenge sets out the Government’s ambition to increase diagnosis rates, to raise awareness and understanding and to strengthen substantially our research efforts so we can help those living with dementia have a better quality of life.”

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said:

“Today is an historic moment. For the first time, a British Prime Minister has made dementia a clear national priority.

“We’ve heard terrible stories such as the man with dementia who feels so stigmatised that he can no longer go to his local pub. This cannot continue in the 21st century. Only by working together - Government, community groups, charities and business - can we change attitudes.

“We are determined to go further and faster on dementia focusing on the three areas that matter most: awareness, quality care and research.

“Government cannot meet this challenge alone, which is why we are working closely with the Alzheimer’s Society, voluntary groups, businesses, care providers and the research community.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Society’s report, three-quarters of people in the UK feel that society is not geared up to deal with dementia. It also found that three in five (61 per cent) people diagnosed with dementia are left feeling lonely, four in five (77 per cent) feel anxious or depressed and nearly half (44 per cent) have lost friends.

England is one of the first countries in the world to have a National Dementia Strategy. The Prime Minister’s ambitious programme covers three areas to go further and faster to deliver major improvements in dementia care, dementia awareness and dementia research by 2015. The Alzheimer’s Society will be leading the work on dementia awareness and communities and has been working closely with the Prime Minister and Department of Health.

The Alzheimer’s Society, in partnership with Government, is calling for a radical shift in the way society treats people with dementia to ensure people with dementia receive the support and respect they deserve.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society said:

“Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister marks an unprecedented step towards making the UK a world leader in dementia.

“Doubling funding for research, tackling diagnosis and calling for a radical shift in the way we talk, think and act on dementia will help to transform lives.

“There are currently 800,000 people with dementia yet too many are not able to live well with the condition. The Prime Minister is leading the way but from Plymouth to Preston, from the boardroom to bus drivers, we all have a role to play.”

The Prime Minister has set up three ‘Champion Groups’ to lead the work and they will report back to him in six months. The groups are:


Only 42 per cent of people with dementia have a formal diagnosis and there is significant regional variation, from 29 per cent in some areas to around 67 per cent in the best. To drive up diagnosis rates by 2015:

• The local NHS will set local dementia action plans quantifying their ambition for diagnosis rates;
• The Department of Health is introducing changes to the NHS Health Check for 65-74 year olds so that patients are given information on memory clinics and refer those in need of an assessment;
• From next month, the Department of Health introducing financial rewards for hospitals that assess patients for dementia. Up to £54 million will be available to hospitals in England that offer risk assessments to 90 per cent of over-75 year olds admitted as emergencies.

To improve the quality of services for people living with dementia:

• The Department of Health is working with care home operators and home care providers to develop individual pledges to improve care for people with dementia;
• Access to information will be mandated, as NHS South West is already pioneering by bringing together in one place information about local health and care services for dementia for patients, carers and professionals. The site includes performance data, enabling people to compare and choose from services available in their local area.


Today’s report from the Alzheimer’s Society said that nearly two-thirds of people with dementia did not feel part of their community and nearly half had lost friends. Seventy-one per cent of people with dementia said they would like their community to understand how to help them live well.

The Alzheimer’s Society is leading the Champion Group on raising awareness:

• By 2015 the aim is to have at least 20 cities, towns and villages working together as dementia-friendly communities.
• A dementia-friendly community is where cities, towns, villages and local businesses and organisations support people to live well with dementia, helping them remain independent for longer. The Alzheimer’s Society will lead on development, in consultation with the communities themselves and people with dementia and their carers.
• Groups in York, Plymouth, Bradford, Sheffield, Leeds and Liverpool are all committed to make their cities dementia-friendly. This initiative is also supported by the Local Government Association.
• Organisations such as Waitrose, Tesco, Nationwide, Saga, Aviva, E:On, Lloyds Banking Group and Kent Fire Brigade have also agreed to look at what needs to be done.
• This Autumn the Department of Health will fund a high-profile public awareness campaign, to raise awareness of dementia and build on the lessons of previous campaigns. It will help to ensure people have access to advice on recognising early signs of dementia, where to get help and support, and how to make life easier for people with dementia and their families.


The UK is a world leader for dementia research, but not enough is known about the disease and the level of public participation in dementia research remains low. The Government is determined to continue to lead on dementia research:

• The Government is more than doubling the funding for research into dementia and neurodegenerative disease to over £66 million each year by 2014/15 (compared to 2009/10).
• The Government is increasing the opportunities for people with dementia to participate in high quality research. To support this, inviting patients to consent will become part of a quality marker for memory clinics. The aim is to recruit ten per cent of patients into clinical trials.
• The Medical Research Council will be investing in dementia research via the BioBank, with an anticipated pilot of 50,000 to 100,000 participants having their brains scanned.
• Funding will be made available from the Department of Health for research into living well with dementia and the Economic and Social Research Council and National Institute for Health Research will launch an initiative for social science research into dementia.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said:

“The UK is a world-leader in dementia research. This significant funding boost will allow us to push ahead with a comprehensive programme to increase the volume of dementia research. This will accelerate the identification of causes, cures and better ways of caring for a disease that is such a burden on patients, carers and society.

“We have been told by people with dementia, their families and carers they want the opportunity to take part in high quality research. This is vital so we can work together to understand the condition better.”

Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“The Prime Minister talks of dementia as a quiet crisis, but today he has sounded the alarm. Mr Cameron has doubled public funding for dementia research, something for which we have long campaigned. This is an important step towards recognising both the scale of our dementia challenge and the scientific talent we have in the UK to solve it.
“David Cameron’s announcements are a turning point in our battle to defeat dementia. Of course, investment must continue to increase if we are to avert the drastic economic costs of dementia that lie in wait. Alzheimer’s Research UK looks forward to working with Government to ensure that this new funding achieves what is so desperately needed - new treatments and therapies.

 ”The way we care for people with dementia today will be the test of how compassionate a society we really are, but the long term answer to dementia lies in research. UK dementia scientists lead the world in terms of research quality and impact, with increased funds, our researchers will deliver the answers.”


Each Champion Group will be co-chaired by two high profile champions who will convene leaders from across health and social care, industry and broader society to support the programme of improvements. The co-chairs are:

• Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, and Angela Rippon, broadcaster, journalist and presenter (raising awareness and dementia-friendly communities);
• Sir Ian Carruthers OBE, Chief Executive of NHS South of England, and Sarah Pickup, Director of Health and Community Services at Hertfordshire County Council (improving health and care); and
• Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, and Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer (research).

Notes to editors


Dr Michael Hutton, Chief Scientific Officer, Neurodegeneration, Eli Lilly and Company Ltd, said:

“Eli Lilly and Company has been focused on AD research for over 20 years, collaborating with the world’s best scientists across industry and academia. The result of these combined efforts, and those of other pharmaceutical companies, is the existence of a handful of potential new disease modifying therapies nearing the end of clinical trials. We are entering a critical period in the history of dementia, in which successful trial outcomes would require that healthcare systems adjust to a paradigm shift in the diagnosis and treatment of AD, whereas failure would require an adjustment in the focus of current therapeutic development and research. Lilly remains committed to the discovery of a disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer’s and the development of more effective symptomatic therapies that will aim to both improve the lives of patients and reduce the burden of AD on health and social care systems throughout the world.”

Managing Director of Waitrose, Mark Price said on the supermarket’s support for the campaign:

“We want to do everything we can to support the local communities we serve. Dementia affects thousands of families across the UK so we welcome the opportunity to help The Alzheimer’s Society create dementia friendly communities. 

“We will do so by informing our Partners (employees) and customers about the condition.”

Paul Turner, Head of Sustainable Development at Lloyds Banking Group, said:

“We are committed to working with organisations that represent people with dementia and those who care for them, in order to understand their needs and how, as the UK’s largest financial services provider, we can adapt our products, services and customer care to meet those needs.”

Andrea Barrett, Tesco Corporate Responsibility Team said:

“The Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland’s Dementia Community Roadshow, funded and supported by Tesco, launched in June 2011 and has been working across the UK to raise vital awareness of dementia in communities and help people access the support they need.

“The Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland, Tesco Charity of the Year partnership 2011 has also raised an incredible £7m to date to support vital dementia research, a national dementia helpline and local dementia support services in communities across the UK.”

Ann Millington, Chief Executive of Kent Fire and Rescue Service said:

“Kent Fire and Rescue Service is committed to ensuring that vulnerable people, including those with dementia, can stay safe and independent in their own homes. The effects of fire can be devastating for families, but with advice and support we can help people make small changes that make a big difference to their safety. 

“In Kent we have a specialist vulnerable person’s team that offers free home safety visits as well as items such as free fire proof blankets, or gadgets to turn off the cooker if it is left on. Fire and rescue services around the county are already doing excellent work in their local communities, and we are all keen  to work closely with colleagues in other sectors to identify those who need our help. Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister is a real step forward in creating safer communities for those with dementia.”

Kevin Peake of Aviva said:

“We can’t stop dementia, but we can recognise, understand and make life a little easier for those who experience it.

“We’re proud to be part of a community of businesses who can help to make that difference through this important campaign.”

Fiona Stark, Director of Corporate Affairs at E.ON said:
“E.ON is pleased to support the development of a National Dementia Strategy.  We have to make sure that all our customers get a service from us which is simple, open and transparently fair, and that includes customers who need additional support. 

“We are currently carrying out a review of how we support our vulnerable customers.  We look forward to working with the Alzheimer’s Society to make sure that the products and services we develop meet the needs of customers with dementia.”

A copy of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia is available to download.

Published 26 March 2012