A Sri Lankan-origin Conservative Party candidate is facing calls to step down after calling for mental health patients to wear wrist bands to make it easier to identify their conditions.
Tory candidate for Cambridge Chamali Fernando, a barrister by profession, told an event organized by the campaign group Keep Our NHS Public in the town, that it would help police better deal with people with mental health issues.
According to local political blogger Richard Taylor, Fernando elaborated by adding that differently coloured wristbands for different conditions could make the policy even more efficient.
Ms Fernando said: “Police, social services or hospitals dealing with people with conditions that affect their ability to communicate can decide they are being obstructive or evasive.
“They do not realise the person may have a mental health or other condition. The way they behave often affects the way they are treated. Carrying some kind of identification shows they have a particular condition so allowances can be made. There are also different ways of doing this without stigmatising the person, such as carrying a card with details of the condition but in some cases by wearing a coloured wristband.”
Taylor told the local Cambridge Tab newspaper: “This would immediately cause others to be prejudiced towards someone because you’ve given them a colour coding.
“If she’s coming up with a new policy like this at a hustings what she do when she’s standing in parliament?”
Ms Fernando’s comments were dismissed as “silly” by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg whilst Andy Burnham, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said the comments were “disappointing” and “set us back and remind us how far we have to go”.
A petition on Change.org has since been set up calling for Ms Fernando to step down.
The candidate has reacted angrily to the reports, saying Mr Taylor had “distorted” her comments.