Opinion piece from Jon Cruddas MP originally published in The Barking and Dagenham Post on 15.04.2020

Over the past few weeks of uncertainty, amidst a rapidly changing environment, I have been overwhelmingly encouraged by the community spirit in Dagenham and Rainham, and across our country. These are worrying times, but despite the initial panic, we now find ourselves looking out for our neighbours, the vulnerable and our frontline key workers – who are working flat out to ensure our safety.

As this situation has unfolded, I have been working alongside MPs from all Parties to make sure that the government is taking every necessary step to support citizens during this time. The lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is fast becoming a crisis within a crisis, and last week I supported calls on the government to do more. We have now reached a point where our doctors and nurses are relying on the generosity of schools, construction workers and local businesses to provide face masks, surgical gloves and goggles.

The bottom line is that we were not prepared for something like this. Moving forward we have to consider the best way to protect people against pandemics, and it seems to me that improving the general health of all citizens is a good place to start - that means people taking more responsibility for their impact on others and more investment for our NHS.

This crisis supersedes party politics but let us be very clear, and not forget that our National Health Service has been underfunded and stretched to breaking point for the last ten years. If something positive is to come out of this I hope that it is a fully funded NHS, and that our communities retain the sense of neighbourliness shown over the last few weeks.

Finally, and importantly, I want to remind my constituents that the guidelines set by Public Health England and the government are there for your safety, and the safety of others. Please respect social distancing, stay at home, and save lives.

My office is still open, with staff working from home, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need support on 020 8984 7854 or via email cruddasj@parliament.uk