Delegates gathering at the NPC Pensioners’ Parliament in Blackpool (19-21 June) were furious that the care minister, Paul Burstow backed out at the last minute.
Over 1000 members of the Convention from across the UK were expecting to take part in a Question and Answer session with Mr Burstow on the issue of social care, but his office informed the NPC just days before the event that he would be unable to attend due to parliamentary business. A request was made for him to attend on another day or send a deputy from his department, but the organisers were told this was not possible.
In response, the conference was treated to the appearance of the “Minister for Excuses” – in the form of a cabbage, which was asked to stand in for the minister (see Gallery page).
Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: “This isn’t the way to treat people. It shows a complete lack of respect and courtesy towards the country’s biggest pensioner organisation and its members. Some have said that the government’s delay in publishing the social care white paper would have made it difficult for the minister to say very much, but delegates had a number of important issues such as the quality of services, the postcode lottery of home care charges and the lack of support for carers that they wanted Mr Burstow to address.”
The NPC will now be sending delegates’ questions to Mr Burstow and publishing his replies.
A full report of the event will be available on the Pensioners’ Parliament page as soon as possible.
Next year’s event will take place from 18-20 June 2013, Winter Gardens, Blackpool.