At Alzheimer’s Research UK we recognise that we aren’t going to defeat dementia on our own. We will need the combined and coordinated effort of a number of different stakeholders, including governments. Therefore, a key strand of activity for the charity is ensuring that dementia research has the support of the UK government. We do this in a variety of ways, including meeting with MPs and Peers, playing an active role in policy groups, writing briefings and responding to government consultations. We also have a network of almost 800 Campaigners who help us engage with MPs at constituency level.
At the moment things are looking positive – the first Prime Minister’s Challenge on dementia was launched in 2012 and since then we’ve seen dementia research funding double, diagnosis rates increase and the general public become much more aware of the diseases that cause dementia. But this success doesn’t mean we can be complacent. There is still more work to do if we want to find a prevention, treatment or cure and we need make the most of the momentum that has been building over the last few years.
With that in mind, we’re working hard to keep dementia research at the forefront of the government’s agenda. This is even more important considering recent government changes and a new focus on negotiations for the UK to leave the European Union. Here’s just some of the work we’ve been doing lately to raise awareness of the need for more dementia research:
We’ve written to the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, asking her to reaffirm the UK government’s commitment to defeating dementia and to continue to invest in research and raise public awareness of the condition. In September the Department of Health announced that dementia research funding would be increased to over £45 million through NIHR, to make sure the UK remains at the forefront of medical research – so we know that dementia remains a priority.
We hosted an event at the Conservative party conference, where we met with David Mowat MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care. We discussed some of the ways we’re raising awareness of dementia, the current research landscape and how the UK can prepare for new treatments if they are developed. You can read the minister’s blog post about the event here.
We’re written to the ministers in key departments:
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, asking him to continue to make dementia research a priority for his department so that the targets set in the Challenge on Dementia 2020 implementation Plan can be met.
Philip Dunne, Nicola Blackwood, David Mowat and Lord Prior of Brampton at the Department of Health, about the impact of dementia in the UK.
Jo Johnson at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Department for Education, to offer our continued support in his role as Minister of State for Universities and Science.
David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, asking him to ensure that the ability to attract the best researchers and provide them with the investment and resources they need is a key consideration in negotiations to leave the European Union.
We’ve responded to the Science and Technology Committee (Commons), Science and Technology Committee (Lords), the Scottish Parliament European Parliament and External Relations Committee and the Commons Health Committee on priorities for Government in negotiating the UK’s exit for the EU. We emphasised the most pressing issues for dementia research, including funding, mobility, collaboration and the regulation of research.
We’re taking part in working groups with the Association of Medical Research Charities and the Science Council to make sure we’re part of a united voice from the science and research sector as EU negotiations take place.
If you’d like to know more about our work with government, please visit our website or get in touch with our policy team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re also passionate about dementia research, and you’d like to help us make sure it remains a national priority, take a look at our Campaigners’ page. Here you can find out more about being an Alzheimer’s Research UK Campaigner, and sign up for resources to help you stand up for the needs of people with dementia and their families.