A number of constituents have now been in touch regarding the new Tier system. My response to this can be found below:
Thank you for taking the time to write to me.
Since the first lockdown, I have ardently lobbied against further strict restrictions. Alongside the impact of Covid-19 itself, these restrictions will have further long-lasting and wide-ranging impacts on both the economy and non-Covid19 physical and mental health outcomes.
I entirely share your dismay that the constituency has found itself in Tier 2 restrictions under the Governments restrictive tiered approach. Teignbridge has one of the lowest rates per 100,000 in all of England, so it feels cruelly misjudged to restrict our lives so brutally once again.
It goes without saying that this has been an incredibly tough and tiring year for us all, in varying degrees. Many of us feel misled by prior optimism that suggested that lockdowns would be easing in December and now find ourselves separated from our loved ones once more.
The Health Secretary has cited struggling healthcare facilities in our region as a deciding factor that put us in Tier 2. This is truly disappointing. We find our healthcare services in this situation because of historic underfunding in the region, and a misunderstanding of how to manage rural healthcare services. One size certainly does not fit all when it comes to healthcare provisions.
A crucial challenge for the NHS has been to ensure adequate numbers of front-line doctors and nurses. While the NHS continues to recruit, it has struggled to make that happen. First because instead of asking all staff caught in track and trace to come back to work after regular testing for five days, those individuals have had to self-isolate for 14 days. Second because unlike the first waive the Covid19 and non Covid19 have not been separated effectively. Hospitals need to be either red or green. They can’t be both. The Nightingale hospital has at last been mobilised- as it should have been weeks ago.
In the previous lockdowns I have been concerned over the people with other health conditions that were unable to access treatment or had operations delayed. In delaying treatments, we are causing longer lasting problems for the NHS and the health of the population. Cancers that would usually be detected earlier are being diagnosed later, a reduction in postnatal support is having an impact on new parents and babies and mental health support has been impacted at a time when it is perhaps needed more than ever. The reality is that these minor easing of restrictions will probably not better this situation. If the Government deems it unsafe to sit in our living rooms with our loved ones, many will be reluctant to visit their GP. Once again, I will be urging Ministers to ensure that their impact assessment of these new measures accounts for this.
It will be a relief to many business owners in the constituency that they can once again open their doors, though these restrictions will certainly not mean a return to trading as normal. The imposition of Tier 2 restrictions in areas such as ours is a misrepresentation of the level of threat and will likely discourage many from visiting their newly reopened local businesses. Crucially missing are our wet-led pubs which are unable to open, except for takeaway. This is a massive blow for many and i'm still yet to be convinced that there is any clear evidence to suggest that a 'substantial' meal makes a sitting in a pub any more safe than simply having a drink!
I therefore expect to see a continuation of support to businesses, many of whom have not been satisfied by the help the Government has provided thus far. Despite this, I really urge constituents to get out and support the local businesses (that can open) who have rallied on through this pandemic best they could. We should not underestimate the mental health impact that such damage to livelihoods will have on many.
I will be voting against these new measures when they come to the House. We have found ourselves in an undesirable situation once again. We must continue to stick together (virtually), reach out for help if we need it and try our best to look positively towards the eventual light at the end of this tunnel.
Thank you again for writing to me.