Charities respond to cabinet appointments

Charities have welcomed the appointment of key ministers as part of new Prime Minister Gordon Brown's cabinet reshuffle and outlined early priorities.

Brown completed a wide-ranging overhaul of top jobs in his new government yesterday, with only one MP, defence minister Des Browne, staying in the same position.

Health charity the King’s Fund called on new health secretary Alan Johnson to avoid embarking on a fresh bout of restructuring in health services.

“It is so important that Alan Johnson grasps the narrative of NHS reforms over the last ten years, and commits to build on them rather than embarking on further restructuring,” said chief executive Niall Dickson. “He has a chance to address some of the areas where reform has not taken root, for example introducing incentives that reward good health outcomes and increased productivity.”

Johnson must also find new ways of funding and providing personalised social care, Dickson added.

Umbrella body the Association of Children’s Hospices and health charity the Association for Children’s Palliative Care, called on Johnson and incoming schools and children’s secretary Ed Balls to work to bring significant sums of new cash to support children’s palliative care.

The association’s chief executive Barbara Gelb said the new ministers would “have their work cut out”.

“Families are suffering as children’s palliative care services across England are cutting back and closing down,” she said. “We need action now and substantial new money in the forthcoming comprehensive spending review.

“We will be urging both ministers to put real pressure on local health and social services to improve children’s palliative care.”

ActionAid called on new international development secretary Douglas Alexander to better co-ordinate the work of government departments to tackle global poverty, as well as focusing on improving both trade policy with developing countries and women’s rights.

Belinda Calaguas, policy and campaigns director at ActionAid, said Alexander must start by ensuring that any trade deals with developing countries helped to tackle poverty.

"The Department for International Development has begun to recognise the importance of women's rights in the fight against poverty,” she added.

“We believe this should go further. Women should have an absolutely central place in the department's work."

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