Digital Publisher of the Year | Tuesday 17 November 2009 | Labour feed


Nursing reforms: profile of minister Ann Keen

As a registered nurse with 20 years experience on the ward, Ann Keen has first-hand knowledge of the challenges facing the profession.


The junior health minister's reputation may have been tarnished by the MPs' expenses scandal, but she is respected for her campaigns to improve NHS care.

Before entering parliament in 1997 Mrs Keen, 60, worked as a district and tutor nurse at West Middlesex Hospital in Brentford and Isleworth, the west London constituency she now represents.

During her career she was named nurse of the year and children's nurse of the year, and took senior academic posts while continuing to practise.

As a backbench Labour MP she led a campaign to raise awareness of treatments for women with ovarian cancer and served on the health select committee.

Since being appointed health minister by Gordon Brown in 2007, Mrs Keen has not been afraid to flaunt her medical credential, studding her speeches with references to the fact that she is still a registered nurse.

Earlier this year the Telegraph disclosed that Mrs Keen and her husband Alan, also a Labour MP, had exploited the expenses system to build up a £250,000 property nest egg. Both claimed the controversial second homes allowance for a flat in Westminster flat despite having a "main home" less than 10 miles away.

“Mr and Mrs Expenses”, as the couple are known, were subjected to angry criticism from constituents but Mrs Keen's friendship with Mr Brown helped her cling on to her post.

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