Since being elected I have been working tirelessly, both publicly and behind the scenes, to ensure Watford is at the front of the queue when it comes to health and social care. In the thousands of emails I have been responding to, health is a common theme so I wanted to give you an update on some key activities – although there is a lot more to share too.

Just last week I asked the Secretary of State for Health in the House of Commons to confirm the £400 million funding for the West Herts Health Trust which will be a grant and not a loan. I am pleased to confirm this was publicly confirmed that the funding will be coming direct from Government. The video of this can be seen on my Facebook or Twitter page.

I have also been pushing ahead with my pledges around mental health. I have begun to reach out to mental health charities locally, businesses, the police and public health bodies to organise a forum in the coming months so we can work together to reduce stigma, tackle loneliness and push forward with my plan to train mental health first aiders across Watford. For those that have seen my maiden speech you will know overcoming loneliness is a priority of mine, and I have had some great conversations with local groups such as the Wellspring Church to find out what more we can do in Watford.

In parliament I have met with a variety of organisations including YoungMinds, Samaritans and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England. My goal is not to create a white elephant campaign on mental health for ego, I want to ensure we deliver practical results and create a town that leads the country, and the world, in practical measures that help remove stigma and help people be the best version of themselves.

I was also pleased to speak to Watford Mayor Peter Taylor to suggest collaborating on a new scheme I have seen elsewhere for ‘chat benches’ to tackle loneliness. I am looking forward to collaborating on this and, as pledged, putting people before politics.

I am also very pleased to share that just this week I have been elected to the Health & Social Care Select Committee. This is a real honour and importantly for Watford it means we have a seat at the table to scrutinise both government and health organisations to ensure they are delivering for you.

I was also pleased to vote to ensure NHS funding is ringfenced and end its use as a political football. This means everyone can be assured that the NHS will always be free at the point of use.

I take my new role seriously, and there is no more serious a topic as our health. I look forward to updating you on my work in this area both in Parliament and in the community right here in Watford.

  • Dean Russell is Conservative MP for Watford