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Largan column: 'We must pull out the stops to build back better'

High Peak MP Robert Largan (centre) visiting the construction site of a highly specialist mental health unit being built at Tameside Hospital.

In his latest column, High Peak MP Robert Largan writes about the need to improve our local NHS as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The vaccination programme continues to pick up pace and lead the world. Locally, 61,869 people have had at least one dose and 42,723 have had their second dose. A truly remarkable achievement.

The vaccination programme isn’t just saving lives. It is saving our way of life, helping us all to get back to normal and see our loved ones again.

As someone who has volunteered at local vaccination centres, I’ve seen first-hand the amazing work being put in by doctors, nurses, practice managers, carers, other healthcare workers and volunteers to make this happen. I know the people of High Peak are very grateful for their hard work and dedication.

But it’s vital we don’t let this slip now. We have four vaccination sites up and running across the High Peak, in Buxton, Chapel-en-le-Frith and Glossop. Successful vaccine clinics have also been held in Whaley Bridge and New Mills. Hope Valley residents have been invited to the vaccine sites at Newholme Hospital in Bakewell and Hathersage Pharmacy.

This weekend, there will also be a pop-up vaccine clinic on Winster Mews car park in Gamesley on Saturday 5 June between 9.45am and 3pm. All local residents who are eligible for a jab can drop in with no need for an appointment. This will provide an extra surge in local vaccines, which will be very welcome.

There will also be door-to-door delivery and collection of PCR test kits to all addresses in Gamesley between Thursday 3 and Friday 4 June. Please do get tested to help break the chain of transmission.

Everyone has done so much to protect the NHS. Now we must pull out the stops to build back better. I will keep making the case investing in our local NHS. It is good news that new urgent care centres at both Stepping Hill Hospital and Tameside Hospital are going to be built, and I am still pushing for a new major health centre in Buxton.

This week, I visited the construction site of a highly specialist mental health unit that is being built at Tameside Hospital, to check on progress. The new £4.8 million psychiatric intensive care unit, due to open in April 2022, will be run by local mental health and learning disability provider Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

It will replace the Trust’s current psychiatric intensive care unit at Stepping Hill, providing short-term care for men over the age of 18 experiencing mental health distress. The old unit at Stepping Hill will be refurbished and become a women only unit, ending the need for a mixed sex unit. Altogether, this investment is very good news for our local NHS and for local people.

It is going to take time to fully recover from the pandemic. This is not just the work of the next few months, but the next few years. We must keep working together to leave a positive legacy for future generations in the High Peak.

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