Mr Burnham was Secretary of State for Health from June 2009 until the May 2010 general election. He was Shadow Secretary of State for Education from October 2010 until October 2011 when he was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Health.
In August 2015, during the Labour leadership campaign, Mr Burnham gave an interview to the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/08/09/andy-burnham-interview-on_n_7960192.html
Mr Burnham's manifesto document for the 2015 leadership election: http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/themes/558290fc01925b0184000001/attachments/original/1438791117/ANDY_BURNHAM_MANIFESTO.pdf
Science Statement 2015
During the 2015 Labour leadership campaign, the group Scientists for Labour contacted all the candidates on the topic of their policy ideas regarding science, engineering and technology. Mr Burnham's reply can he read at http://www.scientistsforlabour.org.uk/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=135:andy-burnham-leadership-candidate&catid=53:labour-party&Itemid=141
In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Andy Burnham voted to keep the current time limit of 24 weeks in line with the scientific and medical consensus.
In February 2015 Andy Burnham voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to give birth to children who would not inherit the disease. An October 2014 briefing report by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which had been investigating the issue for three years, stated that there was no evidence to show that mitochondrial donation was unsafe. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed. After clearing both Houses mitochondrial donation is now legal, regulated by the HFEA.
Integrating Alternative Medicine into the NHS
In June 2009, shortly after being appointed Secretary of State for Health, Mr Burnham replied to a letter from Prince Charles. Mr Burnham referred to a pilot scheme integrating alternative medicine into the NHS that was carried out in Northern Ireland with the authorisation of Peter Hain, and had been referenced by the Prince in letters to the previous Health Secretary Alan Johnson. Mr Burnham wrote:
- "The results of the Northern Ireland pilot were very interesting and I am in conversation with my officials about our plans to run a similar study in England."
(In the letter Mr Burnham signs off with the apparently obsequious formula "most humble and obedient servant". This wording is standard in letters to the Prince of Wales and although not all Ministers follow the protocol it does not necessarily indicate any special respect for the Prince on Mr Burnham's part.)
In March 2010 Mr Burnham was asked "How can the state possibly justify spending money on quack medicine like homeopathy?". He responded:
- Say what you really think, Helene! I can see where you're coming from but there are other people who feel equally strongly the other way. As a percentage of overall spending, the NHS doesn't spend a great deal on alternative treatments such as homeopathy. I believe that these things are best decided at a local level, by doctors and patients rather than politicians. If people believe that a treatment is helping them, then, surely, that is important.
Medical Innovation ("Saatchi") Bill
Following the report of the Liberal Democrat's "veto" of re-allocating Parliamentary time to debate the Medical Innovation Bill (known as the "Saatchi Bill") in addition to the standard time it would receive as a Private Members' Bill, The Daily Telegraph quoted Mr Burnham as saying "Norman's move is odd and wrong, because just to give it an airing would help get some focus on the awful position many of these parents find themselves in." Note that the Daily Telegraph is a supporter of the Medical Innovation Bill, so its reporting on the issue should be treated as partial
The skeptical medical blogger Andy Lewis had called the Bill a "quacks' charter" and stated "The Saatchi Bill is based on a false premise, shows no understanding of medical research and removes vital protections for patients". Medical and patient organisations including the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Motor Neuron Disease Association, and the Patients Association had stated their opposition to the Bill, while others such as Cancer Research UK had stated that the Bill required significant modification. For more information on the objections to the Bill see http://www.stopthesaatchibill.co.uk/.
Mr Burnham was also quoted as saying "The Bill was heavily amended and extra safeguards put in, and I worry a little bit that those who are opposed to it don’t realise that it is actually quite a different Bill now." However critics had followed the Bill through the Lords and had not found any of the modifications to have addressed the substance of their criticisms.
- http://www.andyburnham.net/ (also http://www.andyburnhammp.blogspot.co.uk/)
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