My MP is a good bloke. You’ll remember that at a preview of the Panarama series that showed the human cost of the social care crisis, economist Sir Andrew Dilnot wept. Asked why the Government was ignoring the crisis he said they weren’t motivated because MPs weren’t raising it. It wasn’t in their postboxes, he said. In other words we weren’t asking them to bring it up. I advised readers to write to their MPs, and did the same myself.
A couple of weeks later he emailed to say that he had raised it in the Chamber but was disappointed with the result. (He will continue to push this.) His email included the note in Hansard:
I welcome the Leader of the House to his new role. We urgently need a national debate on social care. As a first step, can we at least have a statement indicating when the Green Paper in respect of England will be published and offering proper resources for immediate social care needs all around the United Kingdom?
The Government have made a number of announcements about additional funding for adult social care in particular. There will be a Green Paper, as the Hon. Gentleman has identified, and it will come forward at the earliest opportunity.’
What would he say if, like Scrooge, he was transported into the house where two sisters are caring for their dying father? As he lay in bed, with a seeping, open wound [i] in despair they wrote a letter to The Times.
They wrote, “The palliative care, the GP and district nurses are unable to communicate and work together. We spend hours chasing support to get timely supplies of morphine. Promised prescriptions are either not written or go missing. And even essential wound dressings are not supplied. For the past three days we’ve been unable to get a doctor to visit despite living four minutes walk from the surgery.
“We are left totally unsupported by the system. This is not dignified. This is horrific.”
What would Mr Mel Stride say to them? Perhaps the problem is that he’s too removed from the tragedies and the anguish of the families like this. He doesn’t see the daughter desperate for even a few hours’ respite from her mother with severe dementia. Or the retired dentist with cancer, dying alone because his promised care didn’t materialise. Or the unbearable strain on the social workers trying to make bricks out of straw.
As God’s people, we are told to “speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” (Proverbs 31:9). When I mentioned this on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/talktolouise) dozens of conversations erupted, showing that people did care, but felt helpless.
But there is something we can do. We can ask God to change things and we can talk to our Members of Parliament. Write letters, emails, attend local surgeries, telephone. Whatever Party MPs belong to, as Sir Andrew said, they need something in their postboxes.
[i] Thursday 5th July.