The NHS will not survive the next 20 years unless funding for dementia improves, leading scientists have saidin a letter to the Health Secretary.
Experts from 11 universities and colleges across the UK warned of the consequences from the increasing burden of dementia.
In an open letter to Alan Johnson, they condemned “pitifully low” funding for research into the disease and said the future of the NHS was under threat.
Dementia care currently costs the UK economy more than £17 billion, but that is expected to double to £35 billion within 20 years.
An increasingly ageing population is expected to push the numbers of people suffering dementia up significantly in coming years.
There are currently 700,000 people with dementia in the UK, but that is expected to rise to more than one million by 2025.
Research from the London School of Economics and Institute of Psychiatry last year suggested that more than 1.7 million people in the UK will have dementia by 2051.
In the letter, Professor Simon Lovestone from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, London, and ten other dementia experts, said: “As the NHS turns 60, the question isn’t whether it will last a further 60 years, but if it can survive the next 20.
“Funding for dementia research is pitifully low, while care costs are at an all-time high.
“With the prevalence of dementia expected to double within a generation, the health service as we know it may well be unsustainable.
“A quarter of the Department of Health’s research budget is spent on cancer research, compared with just three per cent invested in finding new ways of preventing or treating dementia. We urgently need to encourage national dementia research strategies to resolve this.”