Dementia patients in UK face ‘care tax’

SUFFERERS of dementia and their families pay as much as £21,000 (€26,146) a year to cover the costs of social care. Unlike other illnesses that are covered by the NHS, dementia sufferers are forced to ‘care tax’ if they are struck down by the condition.

According to research, carried out by the London School of Economics and Kings College London, the NHS together with council funding only covers one third of the annual cost to care for people with dementia.

On average £10,784 (€13,431) is allocated per patient between the two sources, but in reality the actual cost of caring for someone with the condition, according to the Alzheimer’s Society is £32,242 (€40,158). Therefore the families and patients themselves are footing the shortfall, which averages £21,000 (€26,146) per year.

Overall, the annual cost of dementia care in the UK is calculated at £26bn (€32,3bn) a year, but carers and families share two thirds of that cost, averaging £17.4bn (€21,6).

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said that families are facing a ‘dementia tax.’ “If you have another disease, like cancer or heart disease, you actually get all your treatment on the NHS. If you have dementia, where there is no medical intervention that cures you or treats you other than ameliorates the condition at best, most of the support you need comes from social care and most of that comes from the individual family and the family carers or from a severely strapped social care system.”

The charity is urging the government to end the ‘artificial divide’ between the health and social care systems, which it says ‘unfairly disadvantages’ people with dementia.

According to latest reports, 225,000 people in the UK are struck with dementia every year, which is the equivalent to one person being affected by the condition every three minutes.

It is also estimated that there will be 850,000 people affected by the illness next year, with that figure soaring up to 2 million sufferers in 2051. 

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