Alzheimer’s Society open letter urges Downing Street to act on dementia now

Today our ambassadors delivered an open letter, backed by 36,000 members of the public, demanding that the UK Government makes dementia a priority. 

Make dementia a priority

Our ambassadors Dame Arlene Phillips and Vicky McClure, alongside Ananga Moonesinghe, who lives with dementia, have handed an open letter to PM Rishi Sunak, calling for him to urgently honour the Government’s dementia commitments. 

The letter urges Rishi Sunak to deliver on previous Conservative Party commitments and not let the UK’s biggest killer fall down the political agenda. It has been signed by over 36,000 members of the public and was launched after concerns that commitments to dementia are now ‘falling by the wayside’.  

Dame Arlene Phillips, Vicky McClure, Ananga Moonesinghe, Alzheimer's Society CEO Kate Lee, All-Party Parliamentary group on Dementia Chair Debbie Abrahams MP and Vice-Chair Elliot Colburn standing outside Downing Street

Image: (left to right) Dame Arlene Phillips, Vicky McClure, Ananga Moonesinghe, Alzheimer's Society CEO Kate Lee, All-Party Parliamentary group on Dementia Chair Debbie Abrahams MP and Vice-Chair Elliot Colburn.

We have asked the Government for an update on the delivery of the ten-year plan for dementia, which promises to reform the social care system and double spending on dementia research by 2024. However, we were told 25 times that an update will come ‘in due course’. 

The delivery of these plans will be transformational for the lives of the 900,000 people living with dementia, so we're calling on the Government to urgently make these a reality to prevent a deepening crisis in dementia care. 

Ananga Moonesinghe, who lives with dementia, 76, from Luton, said: 

I’m travelling to the steps of Downing Street today to send an important message to the Government – make dementia a priority.'

Vicky McClure holds up a sign that says 'Reform the Social Care system' outside the gates of Downing Street, London.

Image: Actor and Alzheimer's Society Ambassador Vicky McClure stands outside Downing Street

Dementia doesn’t wait for ‘due course’

With diagnosis rates still sitting below pre-pandemic levels, national figures reveal people are waiting up to two years in some areas for a diagnosis, thereby missing out on vital treatment and support.  

Our research also shows three in five people affected by dementia have struggled to get social care in the past year, with half of family carers revealing they ended up in crisis, such as rushing their loved one to A&E due to lack of support.  

We are very concerned that the deepening workforce crisis in social care – with vacancies sitting at 165,000 – risks leaving people with dementia desperate for help while living costs soar.  

Kate Lee, Alzheimer’s Society CEO, said:  

'Too many people still face dementia alone, and PM Rishi Sunak has the chance to seize this moment and genuinely transform dementia research, diagnosis, and care for one of the biggest health challenges in the UK.

'We’ve welcomed previous commitments from the Government, but we’re concerned they’re falling by the wayside.'  

When asked for an update, the Government have told us ‘in due course’ 25 times, which isn’t good enough – sadly dementia doesn’t wait for ‘due course’.  

Mark MacDonald, Alzheimer's Society Associate Director of Advocacy and System Change, added:

Hundreds of thousands of people living with dementia endure inadequate care, crippling costs and impossible choices due to a system that currently doesn’t work for them. 

'People living with dementia have been waiting too long and expect action now. We, as ever, stand ready to work with the Government to turn their promises into action.'

Dame Arlene Phillips holds up a sign that says 'Invest in Dementia Research' outside Downing Street

Image: TV star, choreographer and Alzheimer's Society Ambassador Dame Arlene Phillips at Downing Street

Words need to become action

Dame Arlene Phillips, Vicky McClure and Ananga Moonesinghe were joined at the letter hand-in by by All-Party Parliamentary group on Dementia Chair Debbie Abrahams MP and Vice-Chair Elliot Colburn, showing strong cross-party support. 

Actor and Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Vicky McClure said: 

Government is failing people with dementia.

'We’ve heard lots of ambitious words from Government about dementia, but words need to become action. Rishi Sunak must make dementia a priority.'

Choreographer and Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Dame Arlene Philips added: 

'The last Government made clear commitments to drive up dementia research, diagnosis rates and improve care and now it’s up to PM Rishi Sunak to deliver them.' 

'This letter is loud and clear – deliver on these commitments and give people affected by dementia in this country the care and support they deserve.' 

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care stated:

We want a society where every person with dementia, their families and carers, receive high quality, compassionate care, from diagnosis through to end of life.

'We are making up to £7.5 billion over the next two years available to support adult social care and discharge – the biggest funding increase in history – and are promoting careers in care through our annual domestic recruitment campaign and by investing £15 million to increase international recruitment of carers.'

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