It’s encouraging that Ben - aged 37, is shortsighted and wears glasses. Cue for Optical Express to send all government ministers offers of free surgery!
Working on the premise that Ben has not undergone laser eye surgery I'm presuming he doesn’t like the idea, so it seems possible we’ll agree on one point at least when we meet!
And meet we shall!
His predecessor, Dr Daniel Poulter, did all he could to avoid me for more than a year, right up until the election, as did his predecessor Simon Burns for two years.
Last week Poulter spoke with Seb Corbyn, John McDonnell’s PA. He told Seb that he was raising the matter with Gummer and would tell him to meet with me.
Perhaps Poulter doesn’t like Gummer, throwing him to me so soon in the young man’s budding political career!
John McDonnell will be chasing this up so I hope to have a date to announce soon.
Meanwhile, all the letters damaged patients sent for me to give Poulter at our last cancelled meeting in March will now be given to Gummer. It’s not the name that matters but the position.
And if you live in Ipswich, please contact Ben Gummer’s constituency office and ask to meet with him!
I caught up with a local conservative campaigner early yesterday evening. We’d met previously when she was a councillor and she remembered, saying, “...something to do with eyes?”. Her flippancy suggested either a hard day’s campaigning or a slug of fortified wine!
In no uncertain terms I explained why conservative candidate Theresa Villiers would not be getting my vote, having told me in 2013 that she was too busy (as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland) to support my campaign!
Yet on 14 April last year Ms Villiers found time to play 'postie' for the day, a great photo opportunity and obviously far more important than concerning herself with the problems her constituents are suffering thanks to an unregulated industry:
Ashley B (Mr Abs), owner of the now deleted 'Optimax Ruined My Life' website and Facebook page, is also one of her constituents. With both of us in her constituency (and Ashley's intended career as a police emergency response driver destroyed after lasik) you think she'd show some interest!
I added that Daniel Poulter had cancelled three meetings with me, to which the ex councillor replied, “Who’s Daniel Poulter?”.
I said that he was the Health Minister and surely as a conservative she should know this! She didn’t, but said she did know who Jeremy Hunt was.
I’m still waiting for my local candidates to knock at my door, although my address is probably highlighted on their lists with a note advising, AVOID
But for those of you who do get a visit, no matter which party they represent, be sure to ask them if they know about the My Beautiful Eyes Campaign calling for regulation of the refractive eye surgery industry. If not, tell them - while you have their undivided attention!
If they start waffling on about cosmetic surgery (the gospel according to Jeremy Hunt and Daniel Poulter), tell them invasive eye surgery is most definitely NOT a cosmetic procedure!
When they promise you that of course they’ll support the campaign, be sure to ask if you can contact them after the election with a reminder of their promise and a request for their active support.
This is a rare chance to pressure hopeful MPs while they’re promising they can walk on water - please use it
Unsurprisingly perhaps, at relatively short notice, Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter 'postponed' his meeting with me for the second time this year, citing: "Unavoidable diary commitments”!
It had not been easy to find a mutually convenient date to suit four busy people, all with tight schedules and little room for manoeuvre, and this was arranged weeks in advance.
Poulter’s office then sent a cancellation email to John McDonnell's office late on Friday, but this was not received until Monday. I was informed yesterday at midday, but was too angry to post details until now!
Last night I sent the following email to Dr Poulter, copied to various journalists and government representatives. NB: Names edited with Mr X/Mr Y/Z for reasons which will become public after this meeting finally happens:
"Dear Dr Poulter,
Having fought for more than two years to meet with a member of the government health service it was therefore a huge disappointment when I was informed that I was not allowed to attend with John McDonnell and Prof Dua on 6 May ‘14.
Having finally agreed to meet with me late last year, albeit seemingly reluctantly, your office then cancelled two scheduled meetings until a third was confirmed for 4 Feb ’15.
It was pointed out to your office that cancellations caused problems for ‘X', who would be accompanying us. [paragraph redacted]
Since the MPlus lens story in the Observer (attached), not only are many concerned parties (worldwide) monitoring my activities, but so are the press and media, all who were aware of our meeting tomorrow.
‘Y' has been working on a related story for the ‘ Z' for the last few weeks, Yesterday ‘Y' asked me if there was a possibility they could also attend our meeting - without camera. I advised ‘Y' that it was unlikely, especially at such short notice. ‘Y' appreciated that and arranged to interview me, ‘X' and John McDonnell immediately afterwards. Now also cancelled.
Dozens of patients damaged by this industry have sent me letters over the past month, for me to give to you in person, and I have received countless emails wishing me luck for our meeting tomorrow.
So when I was called this morning and given the bad news that you had cancelled, I cannot tell you how upset I was, and still am!
Many thousands of people have put their trust in me, and depend on me, and it is therefore with a sickening feeling that I now have to post on my websites that our meeting has again been cancelled, at extremely short notice, and in my view without good reason.
Meanwhile, the refractive eye surgery scandal continues to escalate every day, while you and your colleagues continue to ignore it.
I am assured that a meeting is being rescheduled asap - preferably before the next election!
John McDonnell contacted Daniel Poulter earlier today, and we are waiting for an alternative date to be offered as a matter of urgency. As soon as I have news I will post.
If you live in Dan Poulter's constituency, I suggest you contact him and tell him if you think he deserves your vote on 7 May:
"I'm Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich. The people of Suffolk are always my first priority…"
Read the BBC articles to understand why I am determined that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his cohorts stop referring to eye surgery as ‘cosmetic’, and acknowledge the fact that this is a crisis already happening!
I make no apologies to anyone when I say that unregulated eye surgery is a far bigger scandal than the cosmetic surgery furore, and I will keep on repeating this until the government accept it!
Meanwhile, to those who haven't yet sent a hard copy of your story for me to present to the Health Minister on 4 February, please see my 'URGENT invitation' below!
This invitation is open to anyone who has suffered problems after refractive eye surgery - lens exchange or laser, no matter who the surgeon, or when!
This includes residents in Ireland and Scotland too
I am meeting with Health Minister Daniel Poulter on 4 February ’15
Because I have so much ground to cover, and time is limited, rather than detail individual problems, I intend to present the Minister with a file of personal accounts from damaged patients.
I am therefore inviting everyone damaged by eye surgery to send me your story, no matter which surgeon/clinic treated you. All will be included.
Your account can be as short or lengthy as you choose.
Be sure to explain how the negative results of eye surgery affects your life, and those around you.
If you had to give up work and rely on government benefits, please say so.
If you need (or have needed) medical treatment and /or prescriptions provided by the NHS, it is vital that you mention this too!
With starbursts and haloes, many people are unable to drive after dusk throughout the winter months. Mention that!
Include as many details as you want to...
If you would like to participate, please write your story in letter form and send it to me by post - NOT email!
With MP John McDonnell's support, it has taken more than two years to persuade the Health Minister to meet with me! And I will not leave until I have a guarantee from Dr Poulter that this scandal will be investigated, and dealt with appropriately.
In October '14, Dept of Health civil servants assured me that should I still wish to, I would also be able to meet with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt at a later date. With the General Election so close I wouldn't expect this to happen until later in the year.
However, there is of course the possibility that there will be a major shift in government, another reason to contact your MP asap and pressure them to support you!