For some years now I have been sending out a letter to constituents as they turn eighteen, congratulating them and providing contact details should they ever require help. I also ask them to complete a short online survey asking various questions, and many do.
This survey consistently reflects that the top three issues of concern to this coming generation are climate change, mental health and the NHS. This has helped me to shape my own priorities in recent months and for the remainder of this Parliament.
On the NHS, we have all learned how precious this is to our society and of course it is receiving more funds than ever before and rightly so. I have long believed that the doctors and nurses who work in it deserve a better structure around them then the one I have witnessed – under different governments – in the past 28 years. I hope the proposed reforms in the White Paper released this week will help to do that.
On Climate change, I have recently launched my plans to ensure we are going to reach our carbon zero target in this area. Thank you if you were one of those who responded to my online consultation. More on this shortly.
Many have long identified mental health as the area where we need to make more progress. Although it has been afforded parity of treatment alongside physical health in terms of government policy, on the ground, the reality is very different. Before the logjam caused by Covid, for most of us physical ailments were generally well treated by our health system. But if I am suffering from some mental condition, the expectation of effective help can be very different. To the layman (ie me) it seems that most physical conditions are easier to treat than mental ones.
My inbox and surgeries over many years have demonstrated that there is not always the right quality of support readily available, even though many excellent professionals locally are doing their best.
So, we are launching another major campaign in South West Devon constituency. I have asked Councillor Dan Brown to head up a thorough investigation into the level of support for people with mental health in my constituency with a view to understanding this better. In particular, we want to fully understand where the gaps are and how we can help to fill them. The pandemic is obviously going to make this more necessary than ever.
If you have an experience you would like to share about this subject in South West Devon please email firstname.lastname@example.org to help us get a fuller picture.
We will be listening.