Gazette & Herald Column: Committed campaign for care centre finally paid off

I’ve been asked numerous times over the past six years what I like best about my job as your MP and my answer is always the same.  The best part of my job - and indeed really the only part that matters - is the ability to harness whatever contacts, influence, effort and determination I can, to try and deliver improvments for those I represent.   Sometimes we don’t succeed, at other times we get quick wins and sometimes we beaver away for years before seeing results.  And it was this week that we started to feel that our long standing campaign to bring a new Urgent Care Centre to Devizes was finally about to deliver. 

Those with long memories will remember that the very first debate I called in 2010 as your new MP was on how to repair the damage done by the closure all the Minor Injuries Units in my Constituency and the hollowing out of services in Savernake Hospital.  With one of the largest – and most spread out – Constituencies in England and slow transport links, people were left facing journeys of up to an hour (if they had a car) to get treatment for minor injuries.   I was told at that time while the need was there, solutions would be hard to find - indeed this very newspaper – whose editors and reporters have campaigned themselves so tirelessly for years on this issue, said that I was tilting at windmills!

Well, more than seven years on, it seems that tilting can work.  Thanks to the huge efforts of local campaigners, Great Western Hospital Trust and the Friends of Savernake Hospital, Marlborough’s hospital now has more services and beds; is the home of the excellent out of hours doctors’ service and the Prospect Hospice out-patients centre. 

And now, in Devizes we heard this week that thanks to the work that was started by DASH2 and the Health Matters forum, then taken forward by the committed local GPs, led by Dr. Sandford-Hill and fully supported by the Wiltshire CCG, we are in a position to submit a planning application for a new Devizes Urgent Care Centre in the next few weeks. We still have much to do to make sure the business case is properly sorted and the services defined, and a public drop in session is being planned to enable everyone to have their say 

This is a massive step forward and we are now on the way to getting the Urgent Care Centre that we have all campaigned for.