The dementia challenge: space race, special relationship or perhaps simple common endeavour?

This early part of the week has found me much on the move with rarely a still moment. But now, at last, I find myself in my room at a business school where I am due to give a talk to NIHR colleagues tomorrow morning.

My nomadic lifestyle has meant that I have only grabbed a few snippets of the comment and reaction to the PM’s ‘dementia challenge’ announced yesterday. The dementia tsar, Prof Alastair Burns, has written a good piece in The Guardian today I see. Becky’s Policy Pages are the best if you want to know how we got to this point.

Generally the reaction to it from those I have talked too, has been as warm as the weather currently settled over our Isle.

I couldn’t help but feel the same as I read David Cameron’s speech. Did it sound as good in the real as it reads on the page I wonder? There is an air of the ‘white hot heat’ about it, is there not? Particularly when it comes to the bits about research.

It is interesting that, only a few months ago, President Obama launched his own dementia challenge and public consultation; to a more lukewarm response it has to be said. With both the President and PM on the dementia case, is this the basis of a medical research ‘space race’ or ‘special relationship’ between the two countries? I wonder if it featured in their recent talks?

Pure conjecture of course. But it keeps me happy. And yet, why not? If it drives progress towards a cure then all to the good.

It occurred to me as I considered the bits in the plan about research that its champions and supporters must keep public involvement in research close to them if they wish to realise the ambition in it.

It is not just that dementia has a long and rich history but also that, in the environs of this business school, I am reminded of another US President in the sixties who asked a caretaker during a visit to the NASA launch centre what he did. And ‘putting a man on the moon.’

I am sure I’ve related that poorly and inaccurately. So apologies, that’s the last piece of management philosophy I’ll ever try to pass on. But you get my meaning.

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