I have long been a strong advocate of delivering as many health services as possible locally within the Forest of Dean and in recent years we have built on our capacity for this.
Construction on our new, state of the art £23.9 million community hospital is underway, with good progress already having been made and completion set for sometime in early 2024. This community hospital will provide modern and purpose-built facilities that are fit for the 21st century.
These facilities will include, among others, a Minor Injuries unit, X-ray and radiology, ultrasound services and outpatients’ clinics, endoscopy suite and a purpose-built therapy gym for rehabilitation.
The community hospital will also have an important children specific focus and will provide a separate children’s waiting area and a children’s clinic.
The location of the hospital was chosen by a Citizens’ Jury, something I advocated for so that the community could have its say, and this is thought to be the first example of the location of a hospital being chosen in this way.
Primary healthcare provision in the Forest of Dean is also being enhanced. In the last few years Cinderford has welcomed a brand new medical centre, heralding a transformation in GP services in the area and boasting a number of special features to make it welcoming for people living with dementia and disabilities. It also has a focus on using the power of the outdoors to promote health and wellbeing with its own community allotment where local people can grow fruit and vegetables.
Coleford and Lydney are also set to get similarly modern health centres within the next few years, with planning permission having been granted for the new £5.4 million Coleford site and a consultation having taken place, with planning applications to be submitted soon, for the Lydney site. These additional developments will further transform the provision of GP services across the Forest of Dean.
I regularly meet with our local NHS leadership to understand the challenges they face and will continue to champion our local NHS, ensuring it can deliver modern, efficient and high-quality healthcare to Foresters.