Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:19 pm on 12th January 2021.

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Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 3:19 pm, 12th January 2021

My hon. Friend makes a hugely important point. He, of course, has been a huge champion in this House for the cause of mental health. I know that, as we speak, the Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, my hon. Friend Ms Dorries, is involved in discussions and meetings about exactly that. There is already support in place, but she is very clear that we need to recognise, in the context of long covid and the impact of this disease, including its indirect impacts, that the future mental health of our nation is hugely important, so my hon. Friend is right to highlight it.

At this Dispatch Box, we have often had occasion to exchange grim statistics: cases, hospitalisations and, sadly, deaths. Of course, behind every one of those numbers is a person—a person with hopes, fears, dreams, families and friends—but I know that the whole House will join me in looking forward to exchanges about perhaps more positive statistics in the weeks to come, of more vaccines given, more people safe and more lives saved.

Before too long I hope we will find ourselves in a situation where we can look at the curve of a graph going up and up not with fear and trepidation about what it means but with tremendous hope, as we look at a graph of vaccines delivered. That prospect is within our grasp, and although we are not yet out of the woods and must not blow it now but must stick to the rules for a little longer until we can be safe, I believe that that prospect should cheer us through the difficult weeks ahead.