Actress Vicky McClure has urged the Government to do more for people with dementia, claiming research into “the UK’s biggest killer is currently being neglected”.
The Line Of Duty star delivered a letter to Downing Street on Thursday which urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak not to let dementia “slip down the political agenda”.
The letter has been signed by 36,000 people and calls on the Government to deliver on Conservative Party commitments on dementia.
Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Kate Lee said it calls for “a massive reform of social care, a visionary 10-year plan for dementia, and the National Dementia Mission funding to unlock treatments for people now and in the future”.
The charity said it welcomed previous dementia commitments by the Government but now fears they are “falling by the wayside”, while McClure has accused ministers of “failing” sufferers.
Standing outside Number 10 Downing Street, McClure, who is also known for her role in This Is England, told the PA news agency: “Dementia is heartbreaking, watching a loved one not remember who you are, watching a loved one not be able to drive themselves to the shop that they’ve drove to for the last 50 years, seeing people that are diagnosed not just in their 70s and 80s and 90s, in their 40s, 50s and 60s, people aren’t getting diagnosed properly as well.”
She said “the amount of research for the UK’s biggest killer is currently being neglected”.
She said she was “aware of the mess the country’s in financially” but added: “They can afford to do something, and my emotional reaction to it is I’m fed up.”
In a message to the Government, McClure, who co-founded the Our Dementia Choir and is an Alzheimer’s Society ambassador, added: “There will be people in there who will go through this.
“And often, if you’ve never been through something you don’t quite understand what it means and how it feels.
“And the feeling of losing a loved one and all of a sudden your whole world being completely shook up, you’re not going to be able to be in Parliament any more, you’re not going to be able to be an MP, you’re going to have to step away and become a carer.
“And that is going to mean you’re going to get £67.50 a week, and on top of that you’ve got to be emotionally there for your partner.
“The distress that it causes to families is horrific.
“We need the support to make sure people are given the simplest of things and at the moment if feels as though there is not really anything in place.”
Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Dame Arlene Phillips, who is also an ambassador for the charity, also delivered the letter to Number 10.
She told the PA news agency: “This isn’t just an old age disease, this is able-bodied people whose memory is no longer working blocking hospital beds and being complained about because there is nowhere for them to go, there are not enough homes, there are not enough well-run homes and families are absolutely desperate to find hope, to find research to find anything that gives them a moment of relief that there’s something that can be done.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We want a society where every person with dementia, their families and carers, receive high quality, compassionate care, from diagnosis through to end of life.
“We invested £17 million in tackling dementia waiting lists and increasing diagnosis rates last year and we have committed to double the funding for dementia research to £160 million a year by 2024/25.
“We are making up to £7.5 billion over the next two years available to support adult social care and discharge – the biggest funding increase in history – and are promoting careers in care through our annual domestic recruitment campaign and by investing £15 million to increase international recruitment of carers.”