COMMENT: No excuse for apathy in this vital election

Two stories with conflicting messages about the National Health Service today provide food for thought as the general election approaches.

On page 21 we highlight the NHS as one of the major concerns occupying the minds of both voters and candidates ahead of June 8.

Yet on page 4 we report on the disappointing response from Portsmouth to a major survey asking for people’s views on healthcare.

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Of the 1,950 people who responded, only 311 were from Portsmouth.

This was people’s chance to help shape local NHS provision in the next decade, but only a fraction of the city’s population bothered to take the time to have their say.

Even more surprising given the number of health stories we cover on an almost daily basis, reflecting the concerns many hold about the problems faced by both patients and staff in the NHS.

Maybe people viewed this health survey as one of those irksome feedback questionnaires you seem to get whenever you go anywhere or buy anything these days, and put it on their ‘to do’ list, but never got around to it.

The general election is not like that.

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Rather like the National Lottery, you have to be in it to win it.

You cannot miss your opportunity to vote and then complain for years after about how the country is being run.

Voter turnout in the 2015 general election in Portsmouth was lower than the national average of 66.1 per cent, with Portsmouth North at 62.08 and Portsmouth South at 58.49.

One would hope it would be higher this time, with Britain on the edge of Brexit and with mounting concern over both domestic affairs and events on the worldwide stage.

There is no excuse for apathy. Everybody who has a vote should use it.