Tuesday 17 September 2019

Dame Barbara Windsor ‘told eight times’ she was seeing PM for dementia meeting

The husband of the former EastEnders and Carry On actress thanked Boris Johnson for meeting them on Monday to talk about dementia care.

Dame Barbara Windsor ‘told eight times’ she was seeing PM for dementia meeting (Simon Dawson/PA)
Dame Barbara Windsor ‘told eight times’ she was seeing PM for dementia meeting (Simon Dawson/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Dame Barbara Windsor’s husband Scott Mitchell has said he told her “about eight times” they were going to visit Downing Street for a meeting about dementia.

The former EastEnders star, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014, delivered a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday pleading for better care for fellow sufferers.

On how Dame Barbara coped with the meeting, Mr Mitchell told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “It’s a progressive illness as we know, it doesn’t get any easier.

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Dame Barbara Windsor and her husband Scott Mitchell at 10 Downing Street (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“Her short term is pretty much shot to pieces, on the way to Downing Street yesterday I reckon I told her about eight times where we were going.”

Mr Mitchell, who has been a public figure in speaking out about dementia since her diagnosis was revealed last year, said: “I’d rather not be sitting here, I’d rather be the Scott you knew of for 25 years who stood in the background and let Barbara get on with her work and what she did.

“Saying that, the feedback I’ve had from people when I meet people, they’re always saying, ‘Thank you to you and Barbara for putting the spotlight on this, allowing me to talk about it’. Yesterday we were listened to.”

He added: “And words you most likely won’t hear very much today – thank you to the Prime Minister and his team for giving us the time that they did when all this is going on.”

Mr Mitchell said that Dame Barbara, 82, remembered starring opposite Mr Johnson when he appeared in an episode of EastEnders several years ago, and that they “chatted about it” during their meeting.

Dame Barbara delivered a letter signed by 100,000 people calling for better care for dementia sufferers to Mr Johnson, who told her that he intends to “sort it out”.

She was joined by representatives from the Alzheimer’s Society, who put the case to Mr Johnson for more funding in dementia care.

The letter taken to Number 10 stated: “Our experience is of a care system that too often doesn’t care – one that is completely inadequate, unfair, unsustainable and in dire need of more money.

“Across the country dementia care is difficult, an in some places even impossible, to access.”

Asked what they hope to achieve, Mr Mitchell told Good Morning Britain: “It would be that, they know they’re going to put a billion pounds in tomorrow when they talk about the spending review, that will just keep things going as they are.

“That is not going to help people with dementia and their families from selling their homes and paying for it privately.

“The Alzheimer’s Society are asking for an urgent NHS dementia fund to be set up additionally. Let’s make it a level playing field please.”

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