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Front-line faces cash battle

PUBLISHED: 15:29 19 March 2008 | UPDATED: 09:35 23 August 2010

SUPPORT for Alzheimer s sufferers is under threat due to a lack of funding and a postcode lottery that is failing the most vulnerable, according to a service boss. Carol Smith, chief executive of Alzheimer s and Dementia Services, based in Northfleet,

SUPPORT for Alzheimer's sufferers is under threat due to a lack of funding and a "postcode lottery" that is failing the most vulnerable, according to a service boss.

Carol Smith, chief executive of Alzheimer's and Dementia Services, based in Northfleet, spoke after novelist Terry Pratchett highlighted the care crisis and donated £500,000 for research into the disease.

The best-selling author, diagnosed with Alzheimer's last year, has already had to give up driving.

The service in Deneholm Road, Northfleet, helps sufferers and their carers in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley. In the last two months it has taken on 40 more clients.

Mrs Smith said: "Alzheimer's services are hugely underfunded. It is a struggle for families and for us who are their main support on the front-line.

"We are having to work from one month to the next not knowing if we will be able to meet our financial responsibilities. We would never turn anyone away but some might have to wait. It gets harder all the time."

She revealed that a programme for black and ethnic minorities is under threat when a Lottery grant runs out in eight weeks. The government was also criticised for refusing to fund a £2.50 Aricept drug to ease sufferers diagnosed with early-stage dementia.

Mrs Smith added: "It's immoral. Everybody should have access to it if the drug can improve their life."

A Department for Health spokesperson said: "Dementia is a priority but we know more needs to be done. The new National Dementia Strategy, due in the autumn, will focus on improving awareness, early diagnosis and intervention, and improving the quality of care.

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