At least 1,400 vulnerable people will spend Christmas on a hospital ward – well enough to go home, but trapped because of a social care system starved of funding.

Our investigation has revealed a desperate lack of available homecare and care homes is ‘turning wards into waiting rooms’ and people with dementia are being delayed up to ten times as long as those without the condition.

There is no cure for dementia, or drugs that can slow its progression, so it is social care, rather than the NHS, that hundreds of thousands of people with dementia in the UK rely on every day. But with a £2 billion social care funding shortfall, there is not enough support for people with dementia.

Our investigation, which analysed data from hospital-led audits, found that last year people with dementia spent 500,000 extra days in hospital, despite being well enough to go home. This cost the NHS over £170 million. Limited data is collected on dementia care in hospitals, and only two thirds of people with dementia have a diagnosis, so this is likely to be a conservative estimate of the true picture.

Prolonged stays in hospital have life-changing consequences for people with dementia – many become too frail to be discharged to their own home, with some sadly dying before they are discharged.

Every day, we hear about people not being given appropriate support. From the woman who spent two months on a bed in a corridor because there were no available care home places, to the man who died after months of waiting left him debilitated by hospital-acquired infections, people with dementia are repeatedly falling victim to a system that cannot meet their needs.

One million people will have dementia by 2021, yet local authorities’ social care budgets are woefully inadequate and no new money has been promised in the budget to cope with increasing demand.

Government attention must be focused on social care, and pounds put behind their promises, to alleviate the pressure on our NHS hospitals, and the suffering of people with dementia on its wards.

We’re urging the public to join our Fix Dementia Care campaign today:

- Jeremy Hughes is CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society