Gazette & Herald Column: Eight years of work on health centre has paid off

This week I have taken advantage of the Parliamentary Recess to travel to the US to meet former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and to speak at the Bloomberg Future of Energy Summit.  It was a packed schedule full of meetings with energy and climate change leaders and business representatives from around the world, including the unbelievably impressive UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, former Environment Minister for Nigeria, who is half Welsh and a mother of six!  During the event we added the Bloomberg Foundation to the list of those determined to phase out power generated from coal – the most polluting fossil fuel – as part of the Powering Past Coal Alliance I launched with Canada last year, and which now has over 60 countries, States and companies as signatories.  In the run up to my travels, news came through that Britain had just had its second “coal free” day for power generation in over 140 years, and thanks to our gas supplies, investments in nuclear, and rapid increase in the use of renewables we will be able to stop coal-powered generation by 2025 – one of the first major countries in the world to do so.

Meeting inspirational people is a great part of my job, but the main reason to be an MP is to deliver for those you represent, and that is why this Easter holiday was the best for me in many years, with the news that the work over the past eight years to improve our local health services has paid off in the form of a £7m funding commitment from the NHS for our new GP-led Health Centre in Devizes in Marshall Road.  This, along with the restoration of services at Savernake Hospital has been my top priority since I was elected as your MP, after the incredibly short-sighted decision to close all the Minor Injuries units in our Constituency in 2007.  We have been successful at Savernake, and now thanks to the work of so many people locally like Dr Richard Sandford-Hill and the Clinical Commissioning Group, local councillors and the doughty DASH2 team, the visits of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and detailed work in Westminster with Ministers, we can finally go forward! The new centre will offer same-day urgent care for patients of all five local GP practices and will share services like X-rays with the Devizes Treatment Centre and will provide a location for services currently delivered in Devizes Hospital.  Subject to final planning permission being granted, we can get moving in the next few months.