§ Mr. Carter-Jones asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what research is being done to investigate the cause of dementia;
§ (2) what financial assistance his Department is giving to research into the causes and treatment of dementia.156W
§ (3) what research is being done to investigate suitable types of treatment for elderly people suffering from dementia.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg:
The Medical Research Council is the main Government-funded body supporting research into the various types of dementias, including senile and pre-senile dementia; in 1980ဓ81 the council's expenditure on research directly relevant to the dementias was some £250,000 with nearly £500,000 on other relevant research projects.
The council's support includes a trial of lecithin treatment in early cases of senile dementia; biochemical and clinical studies of senile dementia at the MRC brain metabolism unit; other projects at the division of psychiatry in the MRC clinical research center, the clinical psychiatry unit, the neurochemical pharmacology unit, the neuroendocrinology unit, the University of Oxford and at the Agricultural Research Council's Institute for Research of Animal Diseases. The health Departments have informed the Medical Research Council that they have identified the dementias as a priority need in medical research.
The research supported directly by the Department which relates to the elderly is essentially concerned with the efficiency of the caring services within the National Health Service, Social Services Departments and voluntary organisations.
Mr. Carter-Jones asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many health districts have a consultant geriatric psychiatrist for the treatment of elderly people suffering from dementia and other related illnesses.
Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg: As the position is changing rapidly, I am seeking up-to-date information from regional health authorities in England and will publish a full reply in the Official Report as soon as possible.
Mr. Carter-Jones asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps his Department is taking to improve the provision of care for patients with senile dementia.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg:
The White Paper "Growing Older" and the handbook on policies and priorities "Care in Action", both published earlier this year, have stressed the need for priority to be given to the provision within every district of enough suitable accommodation for the care of the elderly severely mentally infirm, and to the appointment of consultant psychiatrists with a special interest in the elderly who can play a key role in developing the district's service for these patients. A number of special posts at senior registrar level have been authorised for this reason. The implementation of national priorities in the light of local circumstances and opportunities will be the responsibility of the new district health authorities. The NHS planning system, which is currently being revised, will assist them in this task and will also assist the Department in monitoring their progress.
I am also aware that the Health Advisory Service is engaged on a special project aimed at improving the provision of care for elderly psychiatric patients generally.
Mr. Pavitt asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take into account the possible effect on 157W employment of registered disabled persons if employers are made responsible for payment for the early weeks of sickness.
Mr. Rossi: This was one of the factors which was considered during the development of the statutory sick pay scheme. I do not expect the introduction of the scheme to have an adverse effect on the employment prospects of disabled people.