06 Oct Statement: Response to Daily Mail article
On Sunday 1st October, Bracknell MP and Justice Minister, Dr Phillip Lee, appeared on a panel at Conservative Party Conference to discuss the very important issue of loneliness at a fringe event hosted by the think tank, Bright Blue.
The Daily Mail has today reported on comments made at the event. In an interview with BBC Radio Berkshire responding to the misleading headline in the Daily Mail, Dr Lee said:
“The story is a complete fabrication … it was at a talk at Conservative Party Conference on loneliness. I’ve dedicated my whole working life to helping people who are vulnerable. I was invited to discuss a growing challenge, particularly of an ageing society, but not exclusively loneliness in the old. I made some comments that I recognise in the article itself but I really do not recognise the headline.
“As a doctor, I’ve seen my people who are looked after by people they don’t know and it can be quite distressing for the elderly, particularly those who have dementia. If we can start to look ahead to the kind of society we want to create in Britain and the way we really look after our vulnerable, our old, our socially isolated young and, of course, our mentally unwell. That’s a way forward.
“I’m not being prescriptive, I’m just suggesting that we might want to think about this. I’ve come into politics to do the right thing, to make my country a better place, and what worries me, both about this story and some stories earlier in the week, which also sought to close down a discussion of health and welfare going forward, what worries me is if we don’t have this debate, the vulnerable don’t get looked after in the 2030s and 2040s. This is not about the now. This whole discussion is about the future. Society is decent now – this is about the future.
“Politics benefits from people who have had professional experience in these areas. Loneliness: I still get patients coming in, young and old, who are socially isolated, no family, and very, very lonely, and I just don’t want to see that happening.
“This was a wide-ranging fringe meeting, and I went away thinking ‘this was a really great conversation’, it was a really genuine attempt to talk about what is, I accept, really difficult issues about changing demographics.
“I know that there are many families up and down the country today confronting extremely difficult decisions and balancing their lives to look after their vulnerable. I recognise that, I respect that and celebrate the fact that those families are doing that.”
The full interview (from 1:15:05): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05g5p4n#play