It was great to meet-up again this morning with Alzheimer's Research UK, and hear more about how I can continue to support their efforts to tackle dementia.
I was very grateful to Chelsea Wade and Joanna McGowan, both from ARUK, for setting aside time to update me on the work that the charity is doing at the moment, and where they feel the Government's priorities should be.
I've worked very closely with ARUK since becoming an MP, as well as with other excellent dementia organisations like the Alzheimer's Society, and I was very pleased that the Conservatives committed in our manifesto to a "dementia moonshot" to find a cure for this disease through a doubling of research funding and speeding up trials for new treatments. I was pleased earlier this year to pledge my support for ARUK's campaign to press the Government on that manifesto commitment, and I am told by Ministers that they will shortly be setting out plans for supporting people with dementia in England up to 2025. Whilst obviously COVID-19 and the mobilisation of the health research system against this new disease will have an impact on the speed with which the Dementia Moonshot plans can be implemented, I will be doing everything I an to ensure that our manifesto commitment to double research funding to over £160m each year by 2030 is delivered as swiftly as is possible.
As a Vice Chair of the APPG on Dementia, I am looking forward to the upcoming inquiry that we will be holding into dementia research in the UK. The inquiry has already started to receive written evidence, and we will be looking to hold oral evidence sessions too, during which we will hear from organisations in the sector, people affected by dementia, and researchers working in the field.
The inquiry will seek to understand issues around care and early detection, the research workforce (particularly the experiences of early career researchers), and the current state of prevention research – including what needs to be done to further investigate the links between sporting head injuries and dementia.
The oral evidence sessions will be held over the following dates:
- Session 1 – Weds 14th April (2pm): The scale of the issue and the benefits of dementia research. (2hrs)
- Session 2 – Thurs 29th April (1.30pm): Care research and early detection. (90mins)
- Session 3 – 20th May (12.30pm): Prevention research and the links between sport and dementia. (90mins)
- Session 4 – 27th May (12.30pm): Research workforce and the experience of early career researchers. (90mins)
I look forward to joining as many of them as I can.
I have also agreed that, along with the Chair of the APPG, I will be happy to seek a meeting with the Minister, Helen Whately, to discuss wider issues around dementia, and bring together Alzheimer's Research UK, the Alzheimer's Society, and other relevant sector organisations to continue to ensure we make progress this year. I was exceptionally pleased to hear that a disease-modifying treatment is currently going through FDA approval; this is the first such treatment that has the potential to have a huge impact on people with an early progression pathway and, whilst we're still a ways away from approval in the UK, this is a very promising first step!
As ever, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance on this or any other issue.