Contacting your MP about your cancer care
If you need to escalate the situation further, meeting with or writing to your local MP (Member of Parliament) could be a great way to get further support. MPs have a duty to their constituents to make sure their voices are heard and represented in parliament.
Your MP could help in a range of different ways, including writing to the CEO of a hospital trust, raising an issue with the relevant government department, or asking questions at Prime Minister’s Questions. It’s worth noting that they cannot get involved in any legal proceedings.
MPs are elected by people in their local area to represent their interests and concerns in the House of Commons in Westminster. If you’re unsure who your MP is, visit www.theyworkforyou.com.
Top tip: Writing your letter by hand and sending it in to your MP's office, rather than typing it out and emailing it, is an easy way to grab an MP’s attention.
- Include your postcode in your letter to show that you have the relevant constituency area. It may take a while to get a response. If this is the case, you may have to chase a response by letter, email or telephone.
- Make sure it is personal to you. It’s important to MPs to hear about what is specifically is going on in your case as their constituent.
- Write about what you would like your MP to do, whether this is writing a letter to your hospital trust on your behalf or raising your concerns directly with the health minister. If you are unsure, suggest a follow-up meeting to discuss your options.
- You can also use www.writetothem.com to send a message to your local MP online.
Meeting with your MP, whether in person or virtually, can be a powerful way to share your story and experiences. By telling your story face to face in your MP session, you’re able to communicate the seriousness of the issue and the effect it had on your healthcare experience.
Each MP has a preferred way of setting up meetings with their constituents – you can check what this is by visiting your MP’s website or calling their constituency office. Normally they run drop-in constituency surgery sessions – you can find times and locations of these on your MP’s website or advertised in places like your local library. Alternatively, you can contact them to set up a meeting.
Please note that it may not be easy to secure a meeting with your MP, and some are more receptive to meeting than others.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for a meeting with your local MP.
- Think about what you want to say and what you’d like your MP to know by the end of your chat. It’s definitely a good idea to write down your key points.
- If you are having a virtual meeting make sure your computer/device is fully charged or plugged in. Make sure you have a comfortable place to sit, and anything you might want during the meeting such as a glass of water and tissues.
- If you are meeting your MP in person, make sure you leave plenty of time to travel to your meeting so you are not late.
- Re-read your notes and go over what you want to say to your MP to refresh your points in your mind.
- Relax and remember that your MP works for you and so it is important to leave the meeting feeling that you’ve both agreed on the next steps, including timelines.
- Share your personal story. Think about what you want to tell your MP and what you want them to take away from your meeting.
- Don’t worry about meeting an MP. You might have seen your MP on television and feel a little anxious when you first meet them. Remember their job is to represent you, so they want to hear your story.
- Try to avoid being confrontational. If you do not support their political party or party leader, don’t mention that during the meeting. MPs have often been given the party position, which most will stick to. Yet your story could lead to them thinking differently.
- Be clear and concise. Most MPs won’t know that much about cancer treatment, so try to avoid using too many technical terms.
- Remember that they might ask questions. They’re also used to being asked questions, so don’t hold back with yours!
Top tip: If the meeting goes well, consider recording a short film thanking your MP and posting it on social media, tagging your MP.
Send your MP a follow-up email to thank them for meeting with you. MPs love to hear how they have directly had an impact on their constituents’ lives. In the email, include key action points that you discussed in the meeting that you would like your MP to take (e.g., asking a question in Parliament on your behalf).
Posting on social media ensures your MP will publicly be held accountable, but also the issue will remain at the top of their agenda.
If you would like to contact your MP and need assistance, please email the Campaigns and Public Affairs team on firstname.lastname@example.org.