His job will involve continuing leadership of the dementia strategy launched last year by health secretary Alan Johnson. Alongside this his job will also be to promote better care of people with dementia within the NHS environment and in social care throughout England.
An ageing population means that the number of people with dementia is always on the rise as a result of this it is expected that the number of people diagnosed will rise to one million within a decade.
Prof Burns said: “In the past few years, there has been a great deal of public interest in dementia and several influential initiatives, in particular the national dementia strategy.
“The challenge now is to build on this to make a real positive difference to people with dementia, their families and carers. I very much look forward to working with colleagues to realise this ambition.”
Professor Burns is of course no stranger to the mental health field. He is currently professor of old age psychiatry at the University of Manchester and Manchester Academic Health Science Centre and it was he who was responsible for the development of the South Manchester Memory Clinic, which provides specialist assessment and diagnosis for people with memory problems, and also helped establish a drug treatment clinic.
Care services minister Phil Hope has full faith that professor Burns will be successful in his position, explaining that it is his experience which gives him a unique understanding of what works for people with the condition and their carers.