Election 2019

Tories pledge to double dementia research funding

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Media captionBoris Johnson says the UK can "lead the way" in the fight against dementia

The Conservatives have pledged to put an extra £83m a year into dementia research over the next decade if they form the next government.

The investment, which would double current funding, was described by the party as the "largest boost to dementia research ever" in the UK.

Around 850,000 people in the UK currently have dementia.

The Alzheimer's Society said it welcomed any "serious plan" to invest in research.

The number of people with dementia is set to rise to more than a million by the middle of the next decade, and is predicted to double in the next 30 years.

The extra money promised by the Tories would be spent on increasing the number of clinical research academics and researchers studying the disease.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said had been "so sad" to see his grandmother battle the disease in the final years of her life and said that the UK could "make the difference" in developing a cure.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that as well as increasing the spending the Conservatives would "double" government research and work to "galvanise" scientists and research companies.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said dementia was the "next great frontier" in medicine and that the UK should be "leading" in the fight to tackle it.

Labour has pledged that that under its government the NHS would be "at the forefront" in developing new treatments for dementia.

In its manifesto, Labour says it will also cap the cost of care in old age at £100,000 - as part of its plan to build a National Care Service.

Alzheimer's Research UK, which has been lobbying for greater funding, welcomed the Conservatives' announcement, saying dementia must be a national priority, whoever forms the next government.

Its chief executive Ian Wilson said: "Unless we find new preventions and treatments, one in three people born today will develop dementia in their lifetime and our health system faces collapse under the pressure."

The Alzheimer's Society estimates the total cost of care for people with the condition in the UK is £34.7bn. That is set to rise to £94.1bn by 2040.

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Fiona Carragher, the society's chief policy and research officer, said the funding pledge was a "big step in the right direction".

"We welcome any party that comes forward at the election with a serious plan to invest in dementia research.

"This positive funding announcement would approximately double what is spent now and could make a huge difference."

But both Alzheimer's Research UK and the Alzheimer's Society are urging political parties to commit to increase funding so they are spending 1% of the annual cost of dementia on research.

"Dementia research lags behind other disease areas and we urgently need research to fund new drugs but we also need to fund research into care - accompanying this with radical reform of the broken social care system," Miss Carragher said.

The Conservatives also pledged to create a new £500m fund for new medicines for cancer and other diseases was also promised.

The Innovative Medicines Fund would follow-on from the work of the Cancer Drugs Fund, with the aim of providing access to new medicines for patients with conditions such as Huntington's disease.

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