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Govt 'is investing in dementia'

27th February 2007

The government has insisted it is investing in dementia services after researchers warned there would be over 1.7 million people suffering from the condition by 2051.

Health minister Ivan Lewis acknowledged that the demographic was changing and called for long term solutions to tackle the challenges which arise from an aging population.

"It is good news that people are living longer but it is placing questions on society, on government and on families as well," he told Today.

He noted that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were leading a review on "the long term challenges facing public services".

Labour had tripled investment in the NHS since it came to power a decade ago. Although Mr Lewis claimed this was "a quite remarkable achievement", he added: "Social care is different.

"It is means tested and people have always been expected to make a contribution.

"In my eyes the time has come in terms of social care for a new settlement between the state, the family and the citizen."

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt agreed, telling Independent Radio News: "We've already not only doubled the research investment that we're making on dementia, but just last week we announced quite a significant increase in emergency respite care for carers, because that was their top priority."

Today's Alzheimer's Society commissioned report warned that the NHS spends £17 billion on treating dementia every year.