World Dementia Envoy appointment warmly welcomed

The appointment of a World Dementia Envoy has been welcomed Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Alzheimer’s Society.

Dr Dennis Gillings has been chosen for the role following last December’s dementia summit, at which G8 countries committed to an aim to find a cure or disease modifying treatment for the condition by 2025. Dr Gillings will create a World Dementia Council that will raise funds for research into new treatments.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt also announced a £90 million package to improve dementia diagnosis and care, including a pledge for two-thirds of people with the condition to be diagnosed by March next year, and an aim for people to be given a diagnosis quicker.

In addition, leading British businesses have also signed up to the cause with over 190,000 staff at M&S, Argos, Homebase, Lloyds Bank and Lloyds Pharmacy to learn to support customers who have dementia.

Rebecca Wood, (above) chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We welcome the appointment of Dr Gillings as the World Dementia Envoy and the energy and coordination this should bring to international dementia research. Some of the most significant advancements in dementia science in recent times, including progress in genetic understanding, have come as a result of international collaboration.

“The pledge to speed up diagnosis of the diseases that cause dementia is also welcome. People who are worried about their memory or other cognitive problems need to know what is behind these symptoms, and to have dementia ruled in or out. Swifter diagnosis will ensure people have earlier access to support and advice, as well as therapies and treatments that might be available.”

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer's Society, said: “We are delighted that Dr Gillings will champion dementia globally. The creation of a World Dementia Council will enhance and stimulate innovation. Under his leadership, by bringing together our best scientists, clinicians and researchers with those from across the globe we will speed up progress towards that all important cure.”

On the package to improve dementia diagnosis and tackle long waits for dementia assessments, he added: “It is unacceptable that some people with dementia have to wait months to get a diagnosis. The announcement is a positive step forward to increasing diagnosis rates and ensuring that no matter where you live you will receive a timely assessment.

"Too often we hear about a lack of suitable services available to people with dementia and their carers. We welcome the focus on post-diagnosis support which will provide a vital life-line to thousands who are currently left in the dark, with nowhere to turn for advice or support. Everyone with dementia should have the opportunity to access a dementia advisor – someone who can focus on their needs throughout their journey with dementia.”

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