A Question for Alistair Burt

A few weeks back, the family of Matthew Garnett, achieved an incredible amount of publicity in their fight to get Matthew away from a placement that he likened to “being in prison” to a more suitable place that the family felt might be able to treat him. A petition they created, calling on the Care Minister, Alistair Burt, to intervene achieved an enormous amount of signatures. Matthew’s parent’s featured on the Phillip & Holly show, who put out a call for Mr Burt to appear on the programme and offer his intervention.

A few days later, Mr Burt met with the family and the press announced the success of Mr Burt’s intervention as Matthew had secured a place at St Andrews.

Around the same time as the Garnett case was on the air, the mother of one of the dudes we are featuring in next week’s 7 Days of Action was also writing to Mr Burt. This gained no media attention at all. In Stephen’s case, his mother was asking Mr Burt to intervene and bring Stephen home after several years in a succession of ATUs. In a way, it was the reverse of the Garnett case:

Here is the reply that Stephen’s mother received yesterday from Alistair Birt’s office:

Dear Ms Andrade ,  

Thank you for your further emails of 14 March to Alistair Burt about your son Stephen’s care .  I have been asked to reply on Mr Burt’s behalf. I was very sorry to read of Stephen’s continuing poor health, and I understand how distressed you must be, particularly as your son is being cared for so far away from his family.  However, I am afraid that there is little of substance I can add to my colleague Dan Collier’s email to you of 17 July 2015, in which he recommended that you continue to engage with NHS England.   

Whilst I can appreciate that your situation must be difficult, the Department of Health does not have a role in investigating individual complaints, which must be investigated without political interference to ensure there is no question of bias.

You may wish to seek further support in raising your concerns, for example, through a local advice service such as Citizen’s Advice Bureau. 

I am sorry I cannot be of more direct assistance.

Yours sincerely,   Mark Hennis Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries Department of Health”


Doesn’t this strike people as odd? Leaving aside the idea that the CAB are the best people to get involved in solving an ATU crisis, it begs an obvious question:

Mr Burt. Are you allowed to intervene when it comes to getting someone into an ATU but not allowed to intervene when it comes to getting them out? How does that fit into the Government’s Transforming Care Programme?

Could you clarify this inconsistency please?