The Labour Party has a new candidate for Stroud, Dr Simon Opher.
Simon has lived and worked in Dursley as a full-time GP for nearly thirty years and has taken over from former Labour MP David Drew.
“One of the things I notice as a doctor is the state of the NHS and more broadly the state of the nation. When austerity hit in 2012, I had to start referring people to food banks and helping people claim disability benefits that had been stripped away from them. At the time that was very shocking.
“I now see the effects of the cost of living crisis every day at the surgery. People are having to make difficult spending choices. In addition, the NHS is literally on its knees. Last week I tried to admit a patient and was told there was a 12-hour wait for admission.
“I chair the Stroud Locality NHS, and I’ve been trying for years to improve services for all of us. I realise now that we need a political solution, not a medical one. That’s why I’ve put myself forward as the new Labour candidate. I really want to make a difference in people’s lives by making sure that there is a properly funded, properly organised health service, and try and lift the 21% of children who live in poverty in the Stroud area.”
Simon originally came from Oxfordshire and went to a comprehensive school before learning medicine at St Mary’s Hospital in London. He has 3 children, all educated locally at Rednock school. He is passionate about the arts and is Chair of the charity that runs Prema Arts Centre. He also plays cricket (badly, he says), around the beautiful cricket grounds of Stroud and is now President of Uley Cricket Club. He continues to play football and cycles to work. He regularly attends Dursley DJs and is actively helping to get the Dursley Greenway cycle path completed.
He was awarded an MBE for services to healthcare in 2016 and was instrumental in the building of the Vale Hospital. He ran the Covid vaccination program locally (“with the help of legions of GPs healthcare staff and wonderful volunteers”, he adds). Simon continues to work full-time and, if elected, has pledged to keep a day a week for patients in his practice.
“I think it’s time for a change. I am first and foremost a doctor, not a politician. I believe that people have mostly lost faith in politicians and it’s really important to build trust back. I also think there is now a meanness to our society that simply isn’t in our nature. In general people in Stroud are compassionate and try and help others. I’m not sure the present government share these motives.”