Remember Harold Shipman. He was a very evil man - a GP who murdered well over 200 people, mostly elderly women. He was found guilty of murdering 15 of them in 2000, sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommendation that he never be released. He hanged himself in Wakefield Prison on 2004. Not many will have mourned him. I anticipate that all visitors to this blog agree that to kill over 200 people, mostly elderly is a terrible evil. Research by the Alzheimer's Research Trust , widely reported today, informs us that 23,000 elderly people are being killed, every year, by the over-prescription of antipsychotic drugs, often given just to keep them quiet. Is it possible to think of anything more evil ?
Regular readers will know that I have become involved with a care provider, The Europeancare Group, and RESEC, a charity we sponsor. RESEC is an acronym for Research into Specialist Elderly Care. I was in Cardiff yesterday, with other representatives of the company, meeting civil servants to discuss how we can best introduce an 'advocacy scheme' to serve the residents in our care homes. We want the residents of our homes to have ready access to an 'independent' service which will fight for their interests. This is not a wholly straight forward ambition to achieve. But the more time I spend thinking about issues surrounding dementia, and delivering care, the more concerned I become that the Government is not remotely geared up to face the challenge that longevity brings with it.
The standard figures that we all use are that there are 700,000 people suffering dementia in the UK at present, and that figure is going to rise to 1,000,000. Without properly funded care of these people, the likelihood of casual use of antipsychotic drugs could well increase. What was that figure found by the research team led by Professor Clive Ballard of King's College, London again - and quoted in the journal, Lancet Neurology ? 23, 000 Alzheimer's sufferers being killed - every year. That's the equivalent of 230 Harold Shipmans - every year. It has been a news story today - but will it be tomorrow. I doubt it. But it should be.