There are around 800,000 people with dementia in the UK, and the disease costs the economy £23 billion a year. By 2040, the number of people affected is expected to double - and the costs are likely to treble.


Diagnosis rates

A lot can be done to help people cope with the symptoms of dementia. But at the moment, the diagnosis rate in England is only 51% - lower than Scotland and Northern Ireland.

We want to increase diagnosis rates so that they’re among the best in Europe by:

  • setting a national ambition on dementia diagnosis that two-thirds of the estimated number of people with the condition receive a diagnosis and appropriate post-diagnosis support by March 2015
  • putting in place a new Dementia Directed Enhanced Service (DES) to reward GP practices for timely diagnosis and support for people with dementia. There has been 80% take-up by GPs so far.
  • introducing an additional enhanced service for GPs between October 2014 and March 2015 with the aim of further increasing diagnosis

On 10 September 2014 NHS England published a new Dementia Toolkit aimed at helping GPs make more timely diagnosis and offering them advice on how to provide vital post-diagnostic support.

Health and care services

A quarter of hospital beds are occupied by people with dementia. To improve health and care services for people with dementia, by March 2015 we are:

  • asking every hospital in England to commit to becoming dementia-friendly - most hospitals now have Dementia Champions
  • linking £54 million in funding for hospital dementia risk assessments to the quality of dementia care
  • asking trusts to appoint a senior clinical lead for dementia who will be responsible for ensuring that staff are trained in dementia care

We’re also

  • asking care homes and services to sign up to the Dementia Care and Support Compact, which sets out new standards for dementia care
  • working on a targeted campaign with care home and home care providers to improve diagnosis and post diagnosis support.
  • providing £50 million of funding to adapt wards and care homes for people with dementia
  • providing dementia training resources for health and care workers - over 377,886 NHS staff have already received Tier 1 (foundation level) dementia training and over 100,000 social care workers have already received some form of dementia awareness training
  • providing £400 million to help fund breaks for carers and through the Care Act 2014 have introduced significant changes to better support carers (including carers of people with dementia), giving them a right to have their needs assessed for the first time


In November 2013 we published Dementia: a state of the nation report which pulls together local and nationally available data on dementia and sets out in detail the progress we have made. Alongside the report we have produced online, interactive maps which for the first time, allow someone to enter their postcode to check their local dementia services’ performance and to see the performance of dementia services across the country.

Dementia-friendly communities

While it’s very common, dementia is not very well understood. People often don’t ask for help because there’s still a stigma attached. Or they think - wrongly - that the symptoms are a normal part of ageing, and that nothing can be done.

To get across the message that people with dementia can be helped, we’re raising awareness and working with lots of different organisations to create dementia-friendly communities.

Dementia research

Scientists understand less about dementia than they do about other major diseases like cancer or heart disease. To increase scientific knowledge of dementia - and potentially make new treatments possible - we are increasing annual funding of dementia research to around £66 million by 2015. This investment includes £20 million towards a social science research programme on dementia.


National Dementia Strategy

The National Dementia Strategy, published in 2009, set new standards for dementia care.

Dementia Challenge

The Dementia Challenge was launched in March 2012 by Prime Minister, David Cameron. The Dementia Challenge work programme superseded the national strategy and focuses on 3 main areas: bringing about improvements in health and care, creating dementia friendly communities and improving research.

On 7 May 2014, the Dementia Challenge champion groups published a letter to the Prime Minister setting out the progress they’ve made.

Who we’re working with

The progress of the Dementia Challenge is overseen by three groups of ‘champions’ each focusing on one of the main areas for action; driving improvements in health and care, creating dementia friendly communities and improving dementia research.

The Dementia Friendly communities work is being led by the Alzheimer’s Society on the dementia awareness campaign.

We’re working with a range of organisations on the implementation of the challenge. These include clinical commissioning groups, local health and wellbeing boards, local NHS services, NHS England, Health Education England, Public Health England, the royal medical colleges, care home and homecare providers, the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADASS) and the Dementia Action Alliance.

The Dementia Action Alliance is made up of over 2,000 organisations which have signed up to the National Dementia Declaration, first published in October 2010. Members of the alliance are committed to working together to improve things for people with dementia and their carers.