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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 190

Date:- 6 March 2005

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Dementia drugs work, but are too expensive for the NHS

PEOPLE with dementia could be denied drugs that work because they are deemed too expensive for the NHS. If initial guidance by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) is not changed thousands of people with Alzheimer's will be deprived of the only treatment available to them. 

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, says:- "We are stunned at the proposal that vulnerable people with Alzheimer's disease should not receive treatments that have been proven to work. If these initial recommendations are finally approved thousands of people with dementia will be denied the only drug treatment available to them.

This seems just another example of the NHS failing to take dementia seriously as a medical condition. Despite the fact that these drugs are proven to work, NICE believes that they aren"t good value for money. We know they are. 

The Society has seven years of evidence that proves that these drugs improve the quality of people's lives. NICE seem to think that people with dementia aren"t worth spending money on, but how else can you change someone's life for just £2.50 a day?

Preventing people who may benefit from receiving a drug treatment that works will see us lose a decade of progress and return to a dark age of dementia care."


The availability of these treatments has revolutionised dementia care; it has encouraged people to seek an early diagnosis; led to the establishment of memory clinics and improved the quality of life for thousands of people with dementia and their carers. 

The Alzheimer's Society is deeply concerned about the impact that this decision could have on these other areas of dementia care. If these drugs are no longer available people will see no incentive in seeking an early diagnosis for what is a degenerative and incurable condition and one that needs a great deal of support and information.

The Alzheimer's Society will be campaigning to change NICE's initial decision before the final guidance is issued later this year; meanwhile it will be advising its members to try not to panic and to continue taking their drugs as prescribed.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease, which means that gradually, over time, more parts of the brain are damaged. People in the early stages may experience lapses of memory and have problems finding the right words. As the disease progresses, people with Alzheimer's will need more support from those who care for them, eventually needing help with all daily activities. These drug treatments do not cure Alzheimer's disease, and they do not work for everyone, but for the thousands that do benefit from them they offer hope. Any treatment that can give people with dementia and their carers an improved quality of life should be an essential part of dementia care.

Comments given to the Alzheimer's Society on drug treatments:-

"I suppose that I want to convey the message that it is still possible, certainly in the early stages, to have Alzheimer's and a good life as well." 

Person with Alzheimer's disease, on drug treatment for two years

"This drug has put my life back to normal, my wife informs me that she has her husband back in her life again."
Person with dementia, on drug treatments for two years.

"The drug treatments are considered by my father, my sisters and myself as almost a miracle. My mother changed from a silent morose person totally unaware of her deterioration to someone who started to read again, take notice of the news and happenings around her."
Carer

"My mother was going downhill rapidly until she started the drug treatment - for example, mistaking hand basin for toilet - but now everything is fine. It really is a wonderful drug especially for the carer."
Carer 

BUILDING SITES BECOME LIVERPOOL'S LARGEST GALLERIES

MASTERPIECES by Liverpool students are being used to create the largest outdoor art gallery in the city. Construction sites are providing the background for innovative paintings and drawings to give budding young artists the chance to display their art publicly.

The first project is underway with students from Liverpool John Moores University producing almost 150 square metres of art for the Milligan 'Met Quarter' development on the site of the city's old post office. Rapid change within Liverpool is the theme of the pieces, looking at how the city is being transformed for its year of celebration as European Capital of Culture in 2008, with the first series of vinyl banners set to be unveiled next month. Sir Thomas Street, Stanley Street and Whitechapel have been set aside for artwork, free of charge by Milligan.

Documentary Illustration students at John Moores University's School of Art & Design are the artists responsible for the first batch of designs, and more will follow from different young people as the seasons change in the coming year. 

Artist and lecturer at Liverpool JMU, Julia Midgley, got the 15 students involved and a 3 week workshop on-site at the Met quarter at the end of last year resulted in the asterpieces.

Executive member for culture, sport and leisure Warren Bradley said:- "By 2008 Liverpool will be transformed but in the meantime, this project helps to give building sites a more attractive face for people who live and work in the city. We're looking forward to seeing the finished product and I'm sure it will provide a great platform for talented artists of the future."

Creative Environment Manager at the Liverpool Culture Company, Sarah Vasey, is the leader of project, making sure that culture is being used to improve the look of the city.

Sarah said:- "We need to redevelop buildings in Liverpool to regenerate the city but the wooden hoardings and scaffolding doesn't always look that attractive. But with this artwork we can provide a unique opportunity for budding artists to showcase their work in a really public and eye-catching way, as well as making Liverpool a more pleasant looking place. There are lots of issues around changes in people's environment that the artists have considered, and brought to life on paper and now on 140ft of vinyl." 

She added:- "Milligan have been very supportive of this scheme and it is providing a real talking point for the city."

It is hoped that the success of this scheme will encourage other developers to make creative use of their hoardings and develop a welcoming environment for local people and visitors alike. 

Samantha Chown, head of marketing at Milligan said:- "This has been a great opportunity for us to engage with the community and we hope to continue with further schemes throughout the year."

Another major bonus of the scheme is that flyposting is expected to be drastically reduced by displaying artwork instead. This scheme will complement the City Council's 'Community Postering' programme, which provides designated sites for promoting events and products with posters.

Plans are in the pipeline for more sites to be decorated and other mediums to be used, like photography, creative writing and visual art to chart Liverpool as a city in progress. Promoting specific environmental messages on the hoardings, with themes of anti-litter and recycling are being considered.

The Liverpool Culture supports the Look of the City project Company and Cityfocus alongside the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund.

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