MP addresses debate in spite of facial paralysis
MP STEPHEN GILBERT discharged himself from hospital to speak in the Commons after suffering what he thought was a stroke.
Mr Gilbert, 37, who represents St Austell and Newquay, awoke on Wednesday to find the right side of his face was paralysed, leaving it difficult to speak or even smile.
Hours later the backbench MP was due in the House of Commons where he was to call on the Government to intervene to stop a European Commission directive which could impact on the china clay industry.
Shocked Mr Gilbert decided to attend the accident and emergency department at St Thomas's Hospital, London, where a series of tests confirmed that he has a condition called Bell's palsy, which can strike overnight.
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Bell's palsy, the most common cause of acute facial paralysis, affects up to 24,800 people a year in the UK and can be prompted by stress or a virus.
Mr Gilbert said: "I said if they didn't think I was going to drop dead, I would go, as I have some work to do." The hospital agreed Mr Gilbert could leave.
"I then spoke on the clay jobs and we got two big wins," he said.
Mr Gilbert reiterated his concerns in the Commons about the effect on jobs of moves to impose a levy on by-products of the china clay industry.
He told Parliament up to 500 jobs in the region could be at risk.
The MP, who has been prescribed medication, has been told he has a more mild form of the virus although he admits it has been a bit of a struggle, especially with such an important debate.
Mr Gilbert said that since taking the medication he has already seen an improvement and is hopeful he will be better in weeks rather than months.
"I have been told that it could last up to six months but I am the eternal optimist. I certainly will not allow it to get in the way," he added.
For more on the debate on the china clay industry, see page 33.