One of my ongoing commitments as an MP is to support our fantastic local charities and voluntary organisations. Having helped raised over £250,000 for local charities and organisations since I became an MP in 2010, I was determined to do more by way of support. That’s why in 2015 I opened and launched the first ever MP’s Community Office at the Orbital. I continue to be the first and only MP in the country that allows charities & local voluntary groups to use their office for free. It also provides a great opportunity for my office team and I to meet volunteers and provide any help & support that we can.
Last Friday, my office hosted the regular and wonderful Ridge Coffee Club in aid of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance. It was a brilliant event, with many people coming along to enjoy delicious homemade cakes.
This was the latest event run by the coffee club (usually based at the Jovial Monk on St Andrew’s Ridge) to raise money for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance. Over the years the Coffee Club has raised thousands of pounds for the air ambulance through events such as coffee mornings and pub quizzes, and last Friday a cheque for £8,490 was presented to the Air Ambulance from the Coffee Club.
A big well done to the members of the Coffee Club but particularly to local St Andrew’s Ridge residents Sue MacDonald, Lyn & Brian Burrows for organising all of these wonderful fundraisers.
This week saw the launch of the exciting Pharmacy First service.
Having visited several of our local pharmacies, meeting with staff, I have heard first-hand about the greater potential of our local pharmacies to provide wider health services. This is something I have previously pressed Ministers to take advantage of.
As such, I welcome the launch, which will ensure that pharmacists in Swindon, and across the country, will be able to treat more health conditions. This will mean that patients no longer need to see a GP to treat those conditions. By making better use of professionals such as pharmacists, we will of course ensure that more doctor’s appointments will be freed up, helping ease waiting lists. In fact, this initiative is expected to unlock a staggering ten million doctors’ appointments a year.
Pharmacists will now be able to treat seven common health conditions including: sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women. After accessing the patient, pharmacist will then be able to supply any prescription-only medicines, including antibiotics and antivirals.
This is a very welcome announcement which will not only speed up access to essential care for patients, but also help to reduce pressure on local GP services.
Finally, this week I have been raising questions with Government Ministers on behalf of residents and organisations. These include ensuring that our local schools can access the best and most efficient support for SEND pupils. As well as making sure that parents can access the free childcare funding codes to start benefiting from the Government funded childcare schemes which is being extended to younger ages. I have also been pushing Ministers to ensure that we continue to honour our commitment to Animal Welfare on bringing forward legislation on a number of areas including ending live animal exports.