Thursday 24th June 2021
I decided to contact my MP after seeing Heart Valve Voice's #JustTreatUs campaign and thought it important to share my story and the stories of other valve disease patients. So that evening, I reached out to my local MP, Tim Loughton. I was really surprised to receive a reply in just a few hours, as I’m very aware of how busy MPs are. I was thrilled that he got back to me and wanted to help support the #JustTreatUs campaign.
Next, I contacted Heart Valve Voice to let them know so that together we could decide on what to do next. They have a great team who are experienced with dealing with policymakers and an excellent government affairs strategy. So I wanted to make sure we were coordinated on my response and got the best outcome. They were incredibly helpful in deciding how best to proceed.
Together with Heart Valve Voice, I decided on what to do. I asked for social media support (supplied by Heart Valve Voice), inclusion in his monthly newsletter to constituents, and finally, submitting a parliamentary question about heart valve disease. Tim got back to me and offered to meet over Zoom the following week to discuss my situation and the options. The call was great. He was very interested in my symptoms and what I wanted to achieve through this partnership. He then featured me in his newsletter the following month and included a link to Heart Valve Voice. He also asked the Parliamentary Question as requested and emailed me to make sure I knew it was done.
Overall, Tim was very supportive and did everything I had asked of him. I know how busy MPs are, and I know that not everyone’s experience will be the same as mine, but Tim was excellent and made me feel comfortable and supported. Now I have that support from him, I know I can ask for help in the future. So once I have my surgery date, I will let him know so we can do some more social media campaigns after my recovery.
I found the whole interaction with my MP very satisfying. It was simple and did not take up much of my time, just some initiative and the passion we all have to help raise awareness of Heart Valve disease. It all happened within about 3-4 weeks from my initial contact. Talking to him gave me the satisfaction that more people heard about Heart Valve Voice and heart valve disease. That heart valve disease got some air time in parliament means key policymakers are promoting the needs of our community. It doesn’t really matter what political views you have, your MP is a public servant and has a platform to affect the important issues of valve disease. So please get involved and make contact with your MP. It could save someone's life!
Heart Valve Voice CEO, Wil Woan, said "Phill is an excellent example of the impact contacting your MP and asking for support has. Once Phill had connected with Tim, Phill and the team at Heart Valve Voice worked together to ensure we could get the most out of his support. From this one meeting, Phill was able to have a Parliamentary Question asked, which empowers Heart Valve Voice and our community of patients to put pressure on the government and get heart valve disease patients at the forefront of policymakers minds. At this critical time, with more than 5000 untreated patients on waiting lists, the valve disease community needs to come together to ensure valve disease treatments are prioritised."