Dame Barbara Windsor has called on Boris Johnson to ease the dementia care funding crisis to better support the growing number of people being diagnosed with the condition.
The 82-year-old actor is backing an open letter from the Alzheimer’s Society, together with her husband, Scott Mitchell, and is urging the public to sign it before it is delivered to 10 Downing Street in September.
Windsor, who became a household name in Carry On films and played landlady Peggy Mitchell in the BBC soap EastEnders, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014.
The open letter is calling for a £2.4bn dementia fund as part of the “Fix Dementia Care” campaign.
Mitchell, who married Windsor in 2000, was joined by Eastenders stars to run the London Marathon earlier this year for the Dementia Revolution, a partnership between the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Mitchell said: “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.”
The couple were named as ambassadors of the Alzheimer’s Society on Windsor’s 82nd birthday.
Mitchell added: “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.”
Windsor 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.”
One million people in the UK will have dementia by 2021, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, which says dementia is the biggest health and care challenge facing the UK.
The charity warned the system was “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.
Jeremy Hughes, the chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “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.”