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Picture taken on January 15, 2012 in Lille, northern France, of drug capsules. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

One day, there will be no paid carers for people living with dementia. Crisis, what crisis?

 

To a response of massive incredulity, the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, pre-briefed Andrew Marr at the weekend about the new heat of technology about to take over.

 

Mr Hammond tried to make a point about new technology and employment by correctly pointing to the lack of unemployed shorthand typists despite their skills becoming obsolete.

 

When a cure for dementia emerges in 2025, that’s only eight years away folks, we will no doubt wonder what will happen to the employment prospects of paid ‘dementia carers’.

 

In the rush to cutting costs and automisation, it’s conceivable that dementia robots, such as Paro Seal, will replace the equivalent of the shorthand typists – ‘doing more for less’, and achieving ‘better value’.

 

Finding a cure for dementia has always had the whiff of the search for magical snake oil. The last few years have witnessed, in addition to an acceleration in the number of failed phase III therapeutic orphan drugs for dementia, an increasing diversity of acrobatic attempts at finding a breakthrough.

 

For example: none of our attempts so far have worked, even with rampant evangelical attempts at ‘joining dementia research’, so a megabucks grant goes in, with the usual peers marking each other’s homework, on the combination of spurious variables which might predict even vaguely an increased risk of dementia.

 

The brilliant academic Adelina Comas-Herrera (@AdelinaCoHe)  herself tweeted what seemed an innocuous question the other day about what was known, or had been reported on, the relative resource allocations of cure and care.

 

This is of course is a question which nobody really wants to answer. It is clear that it would be nice not to argue about it, in that we should fund both. But this answer is a total cop-out, given the unavoidable ‘zero sum gain’.

 

As a comparison, the £38 billion going to pay the European Union is not going to be spent on the day-to-day running of social care, which everyone agrees is on its knees despite the valiant efforts of social workers daily.

 

And it seems that each penny of the £38 billion is well spent, and pretty easy to “sign off”, for some future ‘jam tomorrow’ whatever the travails of today. The future is apparently bright.

 

And if at all goes wrong, all the current ‘leaders’, particularly in the third sector or regulators, will be nowhere to seen, in much the same way that the ‘divorce bill’ is nothing to do with Nigel Farage.

 

It would be nice to think that Britain can get the best possible clean exit from the European Union. But no amount of lies will get round the hard facts from experts.

 

Even if we find a cure which covers all >100 dementias by 2025, we don’t know what the role of cognitive therapies through person-centred care will be in maintaining good brain health. This is analogous to refusing to acknowledge a need for a relationship with countries with the European Union after we ‘take back control’.

 

According to Dominic Grieve MP, Brexit was sold as an “all singing and dancing project, and nothing could be further from the truth.” And this is of course the story of a cure for dementia to a tee.

 

Crisis. What crisis?

 

 

@dr_shibley

 

 

 

 

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