Government coalition appointments: Burstow given social care brief


The new coalition government has appointed the Liberal Democrat MP Paul Burstow as the new care services minister.

Burstow was a former Liberal Democrat spokesman on older people, and is a member of the all party parliamentary group on disability and a vice-chair of the all party social care group.

One leading disabled campaigner said Burstow had a “long history of commitment to disabled people’s rights” and was “very knowledgeable about the history of social care reform”.

She said: “I think he will do a lot of good in that role. For him it is a real passion that he will take into his work.

“While there is belt-tightening all round I feel a lot more comfortable knowing that somebody like him is in that position.”

Sue Bott, director of the National Centre for Independent Living, said she had “learned not to have any preconceived ideas” about new ministers.

She added: “It very much depends on the individual and how they are able to get their colleagues on board around what they think is important.”

But she said she hoped Burstow would continue with the regular meetings with social care representatives – including NCIL – that were hosted by his ministerial predecessor, Phil Hope.

Burstow is also a former shadow health secretary and has spoken out in the past on mental health issues.

In 2005, he criticised the Labour government’s mental health bill, which he said would further stigmatise people with mental health conditions, stating that compulsory treatment should be the “last resort” rather than the “first step”.

And in 2002, he published a report suggesting that more than 80,000 older people in nursing and care homes were being kept sedated with anti-psychotic drugs for no good medical reason.

20 May 2010

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