Dear Mr Hancock,
I know you’re a busy person, and you’ve presumably got a lot on your plate at the moment what with this whole COVID situation still being a problem, and your continuing need to defend yourself against people who want you to not starve their children. My letter to you is not related to either of those things, but it is something that I believe concerns your office.
A few weeks ago, I had what you might call a mental breakdown. I’ll spare you the gory details, but sufficed to say that picking my sobbing deadweight off the kitchen floor at two in the morning was not my wife’s idea of a good night’s sleep. The following 24 hours were to me something of a blur, but included thoughts of self-harm, and some self-reflection as to the value my continuing existence. I mention this, sir, to underscore the seriousness of my condition, and thus my concern regarding how the healthcare system has treated my case.
I said I’d spare you the details, and so I shall. But what you need to know is that between my 2am incident and my finally making headway in getting support, over 6 weeks elapsed. In that time, I called 111 on 4 separate occasions, was bounced between 3 different departments, was promised 3 callbacks that never happened, and had to repeat in graphic detail the thoughts I’d had about my own suicide no fewer than five separate times. In the end, the thing that got the process moving along at all was my contacting my GP. Why didn’t I do that sooner? Because the processes you set up push people in mental health crisis down a particular pathway.
And so, here is my question to you sir. What the actual fuck are you doing? No, seriously. Because you certainly aren’t handling COVID, you’re not supporting children who need school meals, and you still haven’t solved that parking at hospitals issue that you so vehemently claimed were hurting the most vulnerable in society.
What do you do day-to-day?
Because I followed the system Matt. I did everything that was asked of me at every stage. And yet 6 weeks later it turns out what I should have done instead of follow the systems supposedly setup to care for me, was burden by GP with the problem in the middle of a pandemic. Despite all of this money that the Conservative Party have apparently pumped into the NHS, all the rhetoric you talked about with regards to not leaving anyone behind, all of the systems and process you put in place specifically to catch people like me, all of it was pointless. I had hours of traumatic phone calls with ill-equipped staff across departments that don’t talk to each other because your government - no, sir, because you - deemed it necessary to do so.
In the time it has taken me to write this letter to you, one more person has lost their battle with a mental health illness. In the 6 weeks between my first calling 111, to the time I was prescribed medication, there is every chance that I could have been among the 750 people in the UK during that time that didn’t make it because of their mental health.
Mental health issues are more common, long-lasting, and impactful that any other health condition in the UK. Estimates on what it costs the country range from £42 billion to £105 billion each year. I’m sure you know that of course, but just in case you can chat to the NHS or MHFA England to find out more. Do you know what cancer costs the NHS? I’ll assume you don’t. It’s closer to £16 billion. No, I didn’t miss out any zeroes.
So between patting yourself on the back that your pathetic yet basically mandatory Track and Trace app is the most downloaded in UK history, and breaking your own rules on COVID restrictions, maybe take a second to remember what your job title is. There are people in this country who are counting on you, and that they aren’t the people whose vote you sought is not an excuse to leave them out in the cold.
So, again, my question to you sir, in simple and plain terms that even you can understand: What the fuck are you doing?