Archive for July, 2009

Mike Simpson Liberal Democrat candidate for South West Surrey in the May 2010 General Election

As the war in Afghanistan takes a heavy toll of young British lives there have rightly been demands that we must provide the best possible equipment for our troops. It is also vital that those who return injured both physically and mentally are properly cared for. A friend told me of the superb work of Major Phil Packer – a disabled officer in the Royal Military Police. He spoke at Haslemere Hall recently. His fundraising campaigns have raised huge sums for Help for Heroes. Such charity work is inspirational. For Phil’s website click here

Sadly the care offered by the NHS to military veterans with post traumatic stress disorder is not so inspirational according to the head of the charity Combat Stress. Commodore Toby Elliott says his charity has 9,000 registered patients but the government provides for less than half of them. He says that NHS mental health pilot schemes are inadequate and may end up providing a patchy service. 300 former service personnel who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are being treated by the charity, which looks after veterans with psychological injuries. See the Combat Stress website by clicking here

Whatever we may think of the Afghan war and the rather muddled war aims set by the powers that be, our troops are putting their lives on the line there. We have an absolute duty to provide high quality care and support for those who return disabled, injured or traumatised. Whilst the work of many hard working charities is to be applauded, it must be the responsibility of our government to ensure that these young men and women receive the best possible treatment.

Mike Simpson
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for South West Surrey
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I recently visited the CHASE children’s hospice, near Godalming to learn about their work and hear concerns over future funding. I met staff and some of the children. I was deeply impressed by the amazing work they do at CHASE and the obvious dedication that is put into the care and support of the children and their families.

Bridget Turner, CHASE’s Deputy Chief Executive said, “CHASE currently benefits from a government grant. It represents about 10% so we still rely on raising funds from the public for 90% of the income we need. However even this grant is due finish in March 2011. The government expects the local health economy to replace the crucial funds that this grant has provided. We are very worried about this as we know that any extra money allocated to PCTs to do this is not ring fenced so there is no guarantee it will be used for Children’s Palliative Care at all. This is especially concerning in the absence of specific targets for PCTs to improve services for children, teenagers and young people that will have tragically short lives. All this can only increase the vulnerability of sustaining such vital services like those CHASE provides.”

I will do all I can to put pressure on the government to provide at least as much support to CHASE as they have done in the past. The work they do should not depend solely on the generosity of the public through donations. Government has a duty to support the care that CHASE provides. There are few, if any, more worthy recipients of State funding.

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