Dr Luke Evans is a member of the Health Select Committee, and is MP for Bosworth.
December the twelfth feels like a long time ago. If someone had told you then that, in four short months, the country would be facing its greatest crisis in 80 years you simply wouldn’t have believed them.
To go in less than that time from the discovery of a virus to the effective shutdown of the global economy is, whichever way you look at it, unprecedented.
The Prime Minister would have thought his main task was getting Brexit done – something that he had a tremendous mandate for; and, as a new backbench MP, mine would be one of getting to know my constituency, loyalty in delivering the Government’s agenda, learning how Westminster works and, in reality, a period of relative obscurity.
Yet here we stand only a hundred or so days later, and I am a member of the Health & Social Care Select Committee, tasked with asking leading medics and scientists about a global health crisis; and an MP playing a leadership role in my community feeling the burden of expectations for those 82,000 residents urgently looking for answers.
It’s a steep learning curve even with the medical background that I am fortunate to have.
I’m conscious that, because I’m a doctor, I have to be a clinical voice on the Health Select Committee, I’ve got to make sure every question means something. I have countless former colleagues, and no small number of family members in the medical profession, contacting me to raise salient points about the Government’s strategy to tackle this hideous virus.
I know that it is vital that I use my skills in the most productive manner possible. I can answer questions about the medical aspects of this crisis – hopefully, in a straightforward, approachable manner.
I’m putting out regular videos about the reasons for social distancing and self-isolation, and why the Government is adopting the testing strategy that it is. Those years of learning a bedside manner are once again being put to a productive use.
But I’m acutely conscious that whilst I am able to answer those medical questions, I have my limitations when it comes to the economy and how business will adapt. I know that I’m reliant on the expertise of colleagues with other skill sets.
It’s great to know that, for the most part, the country is coming together with a unified aim of minimising the impact of this virus and getting life back to normal as soon as we possibly can.
In an endeavour as large and important as this no government will ever get everything right, but as a doctor I’m more than satisfied that this one is assessing the evidence and making decisions based upon it.
Of course, the real task, is to then convey all of that information to the people that I have been elected to represent, the constituents of Bosworth.
No one ever said that being an MP would or should be easy, but at a time when people are worried not just about their health but their jobs, businesses and savings too it’s vital that I and my team respond as quickly as we possibly can.
I’m getting up before 6.00am to start responding to emails and working through until 11.00pm, seven days a week. Not for one second do I complain or think I’m different to my 649 colleagues – it’s a burden I know that we are all proud to take along with this vocation that we have chosen.
My team too, comprised mainly of experienced staff who worked for other MPs before last December, are working far beyond the hours that are contractually required of them. For them too, supporting their community is more than simply another job.
There’s no doubt that it’s a stressful time for a new MP when it was supposed to be a relatively stable one, a period of learning for many of us.
But we don’t get the chance to choose global events, we can only stand and lead if we are called upon to do so. I’m certain that we are ready.