South Shields dementia campaigner welcomes £300m research pledge

Joe Grant following the death of his wife Blanch.
Joe Grant following the death of his wife Blanch.

DEMENTIA campaigners in South Tyneside have welcomed a Government pledge to spend £300m towards research into the debilitating illness.

Prime Minister David Cameron said an international dementia institute would be established in England over the next five years, in a bid to make the UK a world leader for research and medical trials.

More than one million NHS workers will also receive additional training in how to care for people with dementia under the new plans.

The Alzheimer’s Society says that 2,128 people in the borough suffer from the degenerative brain disease, while estimates suggest that there are 850,000 people living with the condition nationally. The number is expected to hit a million within the next decade.

South Shields pensioner Joe Grant has been campaigning on behalf of dementia sufferers and their families ever since his wife, Blanche, was diagnosed with the illness in 2001. She sadly died in 2012.

Mr Grant, 86, of Low Simonside, said: “I can’t not agree with them putting that much in to help dementia. Anything to help with dementia and social care I agree with wholeheartedly.”

News of the investment comes in the same month that images of what a new £9m integrated health and social care centre to treat people with dementia – to be built in the grounds of South Tyneside District Hospital –could look like.

The Government said a separate multi-million pound fund would be launched within weeks to help establish an international investment scheme, to discover new drugs and treatments that could slow the onset of dementia, or even deliver a cure, by 2025.

It hopes the global fund will bring together investment from the private, public and philanthropic sectors under a single scheme to pay for research projects into the disease.

Faster assessments by GPs are also included in the Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia 2020 plans.

Mr Cameron first launched the dementia challenge for England in March 2012, building on the previous Government’s national dementia strategy.

Professor Simon Lovestone, from Oxford University, said recent trials for new drugs to combat the brain disease had failed.

“We now need to do better clinical trials, we need to do them earlier in the disease process, and for that we need tests for early diagnosis, and we need better drugs,” he said.

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