By Ian Dunt
The Department of Health (DoH) has consistently failed to live up to its promises on dementia care, a frank and damaging report by MPs found today.
"There is a wide gulf between what the Department of Health keeps saying it is going to do about dementia services and what it actually does," Edward Leigh, chairman of the public accounts committee, said this morning, in an unusually angry comment.
"This committee feels badly let down by the department's failure to act on the commitments it gave to us in 2007."
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The DoH first assured the committee it would develop the National dementia strategy in October 2007, after concerns were raised about the 'Cinderella service' on offer, MPs said.
It finally launched it in February 2009, estimating a £1.9 billion cost over ten years largely funded through efficiency savings.
But the commitments were not matched with "a robust approach to implementation" according to today's interim report.
Leadership, funding and incentives are all lacking, MPs said, and improvements which could have been adopted in 2007 have still not been afforded any urgency.
"The strategy lacks the tools to ensure effective implementation and make change happen," Mr Leigh said.
"At an earlier hearing, the department left us in no doubt that it was going to make dementia a national priority, in the same way that cancer and stroke are national priorities. But it still hasn't. This cannot continue."
The report also criticised the delayed appointment of a national clinical director, a role that has proved very effective in developing and implementing other national strategies, until January 2010.