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LYNNE NEAGLE AM has used a debate in the Assembly to repeat calls for a fully resourced Dementia Strategy for Wales and better diagnosis rates and support for families.
Repeating a call she has made previously for dementia to be given the same priority as cancer, Ms Neagle welcomed the commitment to deliver a Dementia Strategic Action Plan for Wales but called for it to be more ambitious.
Highlighting the fact that only 43 per cent of people in Wales get the diagnosis that they need to unlock vital services and support, the AM called for the Welsh Government to build on their target of 50 per cent and work towards a 75 per cent diagnosis rate, as advocated by the Alzheimer’s’ Society.
Speaking at the Assembly the AM, who has been a longstanding campaigner for better support for people with dementia, said:
“It would be unthinkable if 50 per cent of people with cancer in Wales didn’t get a diagnosis so this needs to be kept under review with more ambitious targets introduced.”
Ms Neagle also highlighted concerns about the numbers of support workers promised in the plan which is currently projected to be one support workers per two GP clusters in Wales.
Ms Neagle said: “One of the areas of concern that I’ve identified previously is that the support workers, welcome though they are, will be done on the basis of GP clusters—a minimum of one dementia support worker per two GP clusters in Wales. That would allow a total of just 32 across Wales. Even on the basis of our current diagnosis rates, for everybody to have a dementia support worker we’d need around 370.”
“Similarly with diagnosis rates, they’re currently at 43 per cent in Wales, which is the lowest rate in the UK at the moment. The 2016 target is 50 per cent. The Alzheimer’s Society thinks the figure should be more like 75per cent.”
The AM also has asked the Cabinet Secretary to keep these targets under review and to look at introducing more ambitious targets as time goes on, something that the Health Secretary has promised to do saying, “Of course I‘ll review the points you made about the number of support workers, their role and function. I’ll review the points about diagnosis rates. I want us to achieve our current target of 50%, and it should then be about, ‘And what do we then do next?’”
Ms Neagle also called for mechanisms to be in place to ensure that the dementia plan is driven forward at a similar senior Welsh Government level as the cancer delivery plan.
Responding, the Health Secretary said, “The work leading up to consultation—the stakeholders have taken part, they represent different parts of the community, so it isn’t just that Welsh Government are sitting down on their own, and that’s important. It’s also important that the chief medical officer is part of that group as well, so there is some senior leadership from Welsh Government reiterating the importance of this particular strategy to the Government. I hope that when you see the consultation come in you’ll see that it’s real and meaningful.”
“We will think seriously about delivery and how we make sure there is both senior oversight and a clear rationale about how that reporting is then made on the progress that we’re making, and whether we’re making the sort of progress that we really want to and that we set out to.”