Friday 23 August 2019

Dame Barbara Windsor calls on Boris Johnson to solve dementia care crisis

The actress and her husband Scott Mitchell are ambassadors of Alzheimer’s Society.

Dame Barbara Windsor and Scott Mitchell have released an open letter to Boris Johnson (Ian West/PA)
Dame Barbara Windsor and Scott Mitchell have released an open letter to Boris Johnson (Ian West/PA)

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Dame Barbara Windsor and husband Scott Mitchell have called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to solve the dementia care crisis as they were named ambassadors of charity Alzheimer’s Society.

The couple have released an open letter calling on Mr Johnson to sort out dementia care and encourage the public to sign it before it is delivered to 10 Downing Street in September.

Dame Barbara, who became a household name in Carry On films and played pub landlady Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014.

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Team Barbara’s Revolutionaries prior to the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon (Steve Paston/PA)

Mr Mitchell, who married the actress in 2000, was joined by stars from the popular BBC soap to run the London Marathon earlier this year for the Dementia Revolution, a partnership between the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The team was called Barbara’s Revolutionaries.

The announcement of the couple’s ambassadorship comes on Dame Barbara’s 82nd birthday.

She said: “I am absolutely delighted to become an ambassador for this wonderful charity, who are helping so many people living with dementia… like me.

“We’re lucky to have amazing support but my heart goes out to the many, many people who are really struggling to get the care they so desperately need.

“Please join us – let’s do everything we can to sort this out.”

Mr Mitchell added: “The last few years have been really hard for both Barbara and I as we’ve had to get used to dementia being in our lives.

“Alzheimer’s Society has shown us there is life after dementia, and we want to do our bit to make sure no-one faces dementia alone.

“Over the last four months I have had the honour of meeting other people with dementia and their families, and I’ve learnt so much about the challenges they are facing up and down the country.

“Hearing their stories and seeing the true state of our social care system has shown me how people, who aren’t as fortunate to be in the same position as myself and Barbara financially, are facing a constant battle to get what they need. I want to do everything I can to help them.

“The Society’s open letter to our new Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tackle the social care crisis is strongly supported by Barbara and me.

“We encourage the fantastic UK public to give their support by signing this letter. It’s time to end the battle people with dementia and their families are facing across the country.”

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Dame Barbara Windsor and husband Scott Mitchell (Alzheimer’s Society)

One million people in the UK will have dementia by 2021, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, which has said dementia is the biggest health and care challenge facing the UK.

The charity warned the system is “in disarray, completely unprepared to support the growing numbers of people receiving a dementia diagnosis”, adding that people with dementia and their families often have typical care costs of £100,000, and too many receive inadequate care.

The Fix Dementia Care campaign calls on the Government to provide a long-term funding solution and invest in an NHS Dementia Fund.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Barbara is a true, much-loved cultural icon, and speaking out about her experiences has shone as a beacon for others with dementia.

“We’re so proud to have Barbara and Scott join us as ambassadors. What they have helped us achieve over the last year is astounding.

“Barbara and Scott are now lending their voice to the hundreds of thousands of people affected by dementia, struggling to access vital care or facing unfair costs – just because they happened to develop dementia and not some other disease.

“That’s why we’re urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Government to invest in an NHS Dementia Fund, and to sort out long-term social care reform. It’s time to end the dementia tax that‘s preventing people from getting the care they need and deserve.”

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