Great enemy of humanity

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THE TREATMENT of dementia should not be a party political issue. As Prime Minister, David Cameron spoke for the nation yesterday when he said that the debilitating condition “now stands alongside cancer as one of the greatest enemies of humanity”.

THE TREATMENT of dementia should not be a party political issue. As Prime Minister, David Cameron spoke for the nation yesterday when he said that the debilitating condition “now stands alongside cancer as one of the greatest enemies of humanity”.

His words will have struck a chord with families across the country – there is hardly a person who has not suffered the anguish of watching a loved one lose their vitality, and then their dignity, as their memory and understanding of life fades away.

This was expressed so eloquently by Ronald Reagan who succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease 10 years ago this month. In his last letter to the American people, the US president concluded his remarks with these evocative final words: “I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.”

No one is immune from this pernicious illness – not least President Reagan’s political soul-mate Margaret Thatcher – but the willingness of high-profile people like author Terry Pratchett to talk, and write, publicly about dementia has performed an invaluable service in raising awareness about the condition and the need for cross-party political action.

In this regard, the Prime Minister is to be commended for leading the global drive to bring together the collective expertise of medical researchers to see if they can find a way to curtail the onset of dementia by 2015.

In the week when the NHS announced a £2bn funding shortfall, Mr Cameron needs to provide a guarantee that finance will not stand in the way of the prescription of potentially life-enhancing drugs. This has the potential to save £5bn a year, according to Ministers. But it is also a reminder to the PM about his responsibility to ensure community care services are fit for so purpose so all dementia sufferers receive appropriate support in the twilight of their lives.

After all, the enduring test of a civilised society is how well it looks after the frail and vulnerable.

Education and training link

PETE Wilkinson, a senior director at Scarborough engineering firm Unison, makes a critical point about the need for a new university technology college in the resort by revealing the scale of the skills shortage in North Yorkshire – and how his firm is having to recruit staff from Poland and Lithuania.

With no disrespect to the work ethic of these eastern European migrants, these are jobs that should be going to local people, even more so in those coastal communities that still struggle to attract sufficient private investment.

As such, Scarborough’s UTC bid – backed by local businesses and the University of Hull – could not be more timely. There needs to be a far closer correlation between the school curriculum and

the important demands of employers in an evolving economy.

In some respects, this was the motivation behind Ed Miliband’s policy speech in which he said that unemployed youngsters should be stripped of state handouts unless they agree to training in vital skills. The Labour leader wants 18 to 21-year-olds to be given a “youth allowance” rather than out-of-work benefits.

The test will be whether this approach works in those former Yorkshire mining communities which continue to be blighted by poverty, according to a new report published by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust. But some will contend that this approach will be too late for those young people who left school with an inadequate set of qualifications to prepare them for life in the real world. And then there is the related question about the actual ability of a future Labour government to create sufficient jobs.

Louis Tomlinson’s new ball game

THERE IS only one direction for Doncaster Rovers after the football club was taken over by lifelong fan Louis Tomlinson – and that is up.

For, while the South Yorkshire club’s new owner is still young enough, at the age of 22, to don a pair of boots if he so desires, he clearly hopes his celebrity following will attract a new generation of football fans after launching a £2m campaign.

And that can only be to the benefit of Rovers as they look to win back promotion to the Championship at the very first attempt after suffering the heartbreak of relegation in the final minutes of the 2013-14 campaign. For, if the players do succeed, perhaps Don’t Forget Where You Belong or Better Than Words, two songs that have become synonymous with the One Direction boy band, will become appropriate new anthems for Doncaster Rovers.