I have campaigned since before I was elected in 2010 for improvements to our local healthcare services, and now that we have secured £7m NHS funding, I was delighted to receive confirmation this week that plans for the Marshall Road site have been given the go-ahead by Wiltshire Council. The exciting project also includes plans for same day urgent care for patients at all five Devizes GP practices and will share X-ray facilities with the Devizes Treatment Centre, also in Marshall Road. There will also be 50 new homes, and I am keen, if possible, that a number of these homes be made available for key hospital workers.
The Clinical Commissioning Group is now working on defining the detailed range of services which will be available, the building fabric and technologies – I have got my Energy and Clean Growth hat on to look at how we can incorporate as many ‘green’ solutions as possible. My colleague, Stephen Barclay MP, Minister of State for Health and Social Care, is very keen to bring about transformation across the NHS Estate, and he has invited the Wiltshire team to Westminster to present their plans with a view to the new Devizes Centre being an exemplar template for other new NHS developments across the country.
I am delighted that this week the Government launched a new Clean Air Strategy. Air pollution is the fourth biggest threat to public health after cancer, obesity and heart disease, and the new Strategy sets out how we will work with businesses, farmers, industry and households to develop innovative new solutions to reduce emissions, highlighting how we can all take action and play an important role in cleaning up our air.
A recent research report found that just one in five respondents felt they knew a lot about the effects of air pollution, with most people citing transport emissions as the main cause. But transport is just one part of the problem, and this new strategy sets out how we will also tackle pollution from other sources. In particular, burning wood and coal to heat homes contributes 38% of harmful UK emissions, and in the future we want only the cleanest domestic fuels to be available for sale.
I am confident that this new strategy, along with the £3.5 billion plan to reduce air pollution from road transport and diesel vehicles which the Government set out in July last year, will have a positive impact on air quality in Devizes, and across the county.