All NHS staff will now be required to undergo training in dementia so they have the “know-how and understanding” to provide the best possible care, the government has announced.
The training, described as being for everyone “from hospitals porters to surgeons”, forms part of a package of measures targeted at dementia revealed by the prime minister on Saturday.
The expectation is that all NHS staff will have received training on dementia “appropriate to their role”, the government stated.
This includes every newly-appointed healthcare assistant and social care support worker having undergone the training as part of the national roll-out of the Care Certificate, with the Care Quality Commission asking for evidence of compliance as part of its inspection regime.
David Cameron set out what he described as a new, long-term strategy focused on boosting research, improving care and raising public awareness about the condition.
“We can invest in research and drug-development, as well as public understanding, so we defeat this terrible condition and offer more hope and dignity for those who suffer”
Recapping on current progress, he said over 437,920 NHS staff had already received dementia training – Tier 1 (foundation level) – and more than 100,000 social care workers had received dementia awareness training – more than any other country worldwide.
He added that more than one million people – including Mr Cameron and his cabinet – had now signed up to be “dementia friends”, under the awareness scheme run by the Alzheimer’s Society.
As well as the renewed focus on training, the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020 included a £300m investment in medical research and an international dementia institute to be established in England within five years.
A separate multi-million pound fund will be launched “within weeks” to help establish a large-scale, international investment scheme to discover new drugs and treatment that “could slow down the onset of dementia or even deliver a cure” by 2025.
The government also said it wanted there to be three million more “dementia friends”, faster assessments and better care for all, and a greater focus on support given to people following their diagnosis, such as better information about services available locally, advice and help for carers.
Nationally, initial dementia assessments will take place in an average of six weeks, the government said.
“Too many people are waiting up to six months for a full assessment, causing worry and uncertainty for people and their families. This will no longer be tolerated,” it added.
The five-year strategy updates the three-year dementia challenge announced by Mr Camceron in March 2012, which itself followed the Department of Health’s five-year strategy on dementia from 2009.
Announcing the new plan, Mr Cameron, said: “Because of the growing strength of our economy, we can invest in research and drug-development, as well as public understanding, so we defeat this terrible condition and offer more hope and dignity for those who suffer.”
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said the “sheer scale of the challenge posed by dementia means we all need to work together to address it”.