It was revealed last year that, for every £10 spent on dementia in the UK, only 8 pence goes on research.*

The other £9.92 goes on health and social care. This is absolutely essential, of course, and I wouldn’t want to see any reduction in our commitment to caring for people with dementia. However, we are putting almost all our effort into coping with dementia instead of containing, reducing and defeating it through research.

If you like percentages, that’s 99.2% on coping and 0.8% trying to beat dementia through medical science.

Not everyone thinks in percentages, though. Didn’t someone establish that 50% of people don’t understand what 50% is? Or was that just Sandi Toksvig’s joke on QI?

Another way of looking at it, which really seems to put it in perspective, is against time.

Imagine that we start spending on all other dementia costs as the fireworks go up in the first few seconds of New Year’s Day, and that we spend nothing on research until all other annual costs are covered.

This means that research spending starts at about five to two in the morning on 29th December.

Challenge and correct my calculations if you like, but it won’t look much better. If we are serious about achieving earlier diagnosis and developing new and effective treatments, we have to commit resources.

Of course, if new treatments really are effective, we might one day be able to reduce the health and social care expenditure for the only good reason possible – that we will have reduced the need for it by freeing huge numbers of people from the condition.

* Research carried out at the University of Oxford and published in BMJ Open, April 2015

Photo - copyright courtesy of the MRC