It is already certain that health will be one of the major issues in the coming general election amid talk of a need for cuts despite all parties' pledges of support for the NHS.
In the Barnet area the spotlight has been taken by proposals to axe key services at major hospitals including the Whittington, Chase Farm, Barnet General and North Middlesex. Many parliamentary candidates have quite rightly taken a stand against many of the reductions.
However I urge voters to seek pledges from candidates that they will also work to improve support for family carers – those thousands of unsung and unpaid people who spend much of their time looking after relatives who cannot fully fend for themselves.
I have written to my Hendon rivals, Labour's Andrew Dismore, Matthew Offord for the Conservatives and LibDem Matthew Harris, to ask them to endorse the aims of www.Carerwatch.com which is campaigning for recognition that family carers are at the heart of the care system.
Many members of all the major political parties have already signed up to the campaign's "Pledge to End Carer Impoverishment" and I hope all parliamentary candidates in the Barnet area will do so too.
Carerwatch are concerned that governments have failed to recognise that family carers are at the heart of the care system. They believe that unless family carers are acknowledged and supported, both financially and through care services, no new system will be sustainable. Family carers are not an optional extra to be added on as an after thought, Carerwatch says.
Carerwatch campaigners are also fighting to restore unconditional benefits to all people with severe and enduring illness.
The 2001 Census identified 30,000 adult carers and 1000 young carers (under the age of 18) living in the borough of Barnet.
If anyone doubts that the situation of carers is a major issue they should drop into my local supermarket, where Barnet Carer Watch is one of three charities of the month. The pile of tokens in support of Carer Watch is currenty higher than those for the other two charities put together.