Improving mental and physical healthcare in West Sussex

Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing
Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing

When hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons threatened coastline population across the world, we knew it is good fortune or good judgment to live in West Sussex.

There are other devastations we could do more to prevent. I recommend that we all get our flu vaccinations - free for the young, the old and the vulnerable. It is worthwhile too at low cost for healthy adults. Older generations knew the devastation of polio, measles, mumps and rubella.

Smallpox would not have been eliminated worldwide forty years ago if the ill-informed questioning of the value and safety of vaccination had been current when I and my children were growing up.

It is important that our young generations are protected against other diseases that endanger their lives. One is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the cause of numerous diseases, including fatal cancers.

It has been estimated that HPV is the cause of at least five per cent of all cancer cases in the United Kingdom.

With medical experts and with many of my colleagues and friends I still campaign to achieve so-called herd immunity – enough boys and girls vaccinated to make it impossible for an epidemic to spread far.

For many years we relied upon vaccinating girls only. HPV is not just an issue for women – it is an issue for men too. We will soon prevent unnecessary cancers in men as well as better protecting women.

Not all health problems are physical. I briefly attended the Offington Church event that concluded Worthing Mental Health week. Robert Smytherman and the Mayor were properly prominent, supporting the cause.

While musicians provided great entertainment, I quietly collected valuable information at the stalls. At Westminster, I gained from a briefing on digital health.

|Also in the news - gridlock in Worthing is set to last until the weekend as emergency gas repairs continue; a Lancing man has been arrested after a fatal collision on the A27 in Arundel which killed a man from Worthing; and Pets at Home is offering free pet care workshops for children throughout half term|

Many will know the delays and difficulties when a person could and should benefit from psychological therapy. For years the NHS in England has been involved in improving access. The monitoring shows that perhaps the greatest gains have been in our area.

Sometimes digital techniques try to force people into inhumane preciseness. I found that when trying to report a water main leak in a street near Westminster.

I was forced into a crazy complicated automatic system with no human contact. Just one problem was being forced to try to give a postcode for a road junction! It took twenty minutes to fail.

Years ago I was asked the same question by an ambulance controller when calling for help for a woman who had fallen near the gasholder in central Worthing. Another time there was a temporary confusion when describing a problem in The Street, Rustington. My questioner tried to convince me that it had to be a something street.

Access to therapy if we are anxious, stressed or depressed is much easier. The telephone number is 0800 074 5560; the website is www.iesohealth.com/westsussex - the caller will be asked to confirm registration with a local GP.

The service will then clear possible recommended therapy with the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust who commission the service. Online therapy could help many of us and the outcomes are better with the great gain of cutting delays in access to help.

There is another advantage that I want to help achieve. University students can be miserable and vulnerable. Most have a great time, working successfully and developing other interests and lifelong friendships. I encourage all to tell their university supervisor and their medical practitioner that parents can be contacted if worries develop about failing mental health.

Online therapeutic courses can bridge university terms and holidays. We should be able to overcome boundaries.

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