Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

North Yorkshire NHS dementia spending unaccounted for

Two pairs of hands
The government published its National Dementia Strategy in 2009

North Yorkshire's NHS Trust is unable to account for thousands of pounds earmarked for dementia services, a BBC Radio York investigation has shown.

North Yorkshire and York NHS Trust received more than £800,000 from the government last year to help implement the National Dementia Strategy.

The trust said it could not say how the money had been specifically spent because funding is not ring-fenced.

An audit is looking at how all funds for dementia care are being spent.

Last year the government published its National Dementia Strategy - a five-year plan to improve dementia care in all settings, including care homes.

If money had been ring-fenced we would be looking at implementing plans more quickly
Sue Metcalfe, NHS North Yorkshire and York

That included £150m to be shared out over two years among primary care trusts (PCTs) nationally.

Sue Metcalfe, deputy chief executive of NHS North Yorkshire and York, said funding had improved aspects of dementia care but because the government money was not ring-fenced when allocated some plans had been delayed.

"If money had been ring-fenced we would be looking at implementing plans more quickly.

"There are a range of plans we would like to put in place, and we're working through those now, and we would have probably looked at doing things a little bit more quickly."

She added: "In this coming year we're looking at trying to enhance the range of things like early intervention, early detection, so patients can get access more quickly to the assessment and diagnosis they might need in the future."

In an interview on BBC Radio York, Phil Hope, the Minister of State for Care Services, explained why the funding had not been not ring-fenced.

"We believe as a government that it's best if local primary care trusts, local councils, have the freedom and flexibility to decide and determine their own priorities and their own needs that suits their own area.

"But with that freedom of flexibility must come accountability."

Mr Hope said a government audit was taking place to see how all money is being spent on people with dementia.

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