Member of Parliament for the Cities of London & Westminster Nickie Aiken made the following response in the House yesterday to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s announcement that the COVID Alert Level across Greater London is being raised from tier 1 to tier 2.
Nickie Aiken MP - Thank you for squeezing me in, Mr Speaker. I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement, and I also thank him for his response to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) earlier. It is so vital that we have a pathway and an exit plan to take London back to tier 1 as soon as possible. I am concerned about the impact on local people and businesses in my constituency in central London, particularly in terms of the mental health issues we are facing. I met a businesswoman on Friday in the City of London—a beautician who is now on antidepressants because her business is failing. Will my right hon. Friend please assure me that funding for mental health services will be available as we go further into this crisis?
Matt Hancock MP - My hon. Friend is right to raise these issues, and these are difficult choices that we face. She has raised with me previously the need for a plan for exit so that we can motivate people to do what is needed to get the disease under control in London. In her constituency, almost more than any other, decisions to restrict social life have a significant direct impact. On economic and health grounds, getting this virus under control helps on both counts, particularly if we take into account, for instance, the mental health impacts. Having spoken to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, it is clear that the mental health impacts if the virus gets out of control are worse than the mental health impacts of the measures necessary to keep it in control, but nevertheless we have to ensure that the services are there to support people.
You can also watch Nickie and Matt’s exchange in full above.