MP Suella takes a look round her patch

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It has been nearly six months since MP Suella Fernandes was voted into her constituency.

There was a flurry of excitement mixed with some nervous apprehension when Suella Fernandes was elected to her Fareham seat earlier this year.

She replaced long­-standing MP Mark Hoban, and some claimed the 35-year-old barrister from London had been parachuted in by the Conservative party, while others criticised her for her race, gender and relative youthfulness.

But the politician ignored those comments and she dug her heels in, determined to prove her critics wrong and to show Fareham that it had made the right choice.

Since moving to Locks Heath with her family shortly after the election in May, she’s been busy in the Fareham constituency.

The News caught up with her to see some of the places she has been and topics that have caught her attention.

CITIZEN’S ADVICE BUREAU

WHEN you need advice in Fareham, many residents turn to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Miss Fernandes visited the Fareham office, which is situated above the library in the town centre, to find out what goes on there and how it works.

She went on a tour of the facility, and said she was impressed with the consultation rooms and the call centre, which is manned by volunteers.

She met staff and found out some of the issues commonly raised by customers, such as housing and pensions.

Staff told her about the struggle many are facing to get a mortgage and how many pensioners are turning to them for advice on their pensions and savings.

Miss Fernandes said: ‘The work of the CAB in Fareham is exceptional.

‘I would urge anyone looking to volunteer to contact the centre as not only is their work invaluable, but the atmosphere is so friendly too.’

GAFIRS

MORE needs to be done to extend facilities at Fareham Community Hospital so that constituents can be seen more quickly, according to MP Suella Fernandes.

Hospital volunteers were delighted to show the politician the work they do and Miss Fernandes spent the day with the Friends of Fareham Community Hospital, a group of people that volunteer at the Sarisbury Green facility.

She said: ‘Fareham Community Hospital is a fantastic facility but it is clear that it can be put to more and better use.’

The centre opened in May 2010 and the 2,700sq ft hospital provides services such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, MRI, abdominal aortic aneurism Screening, phlebotomy booking service and blood testing and a Dementia Support Group.

In addition, Brook Lane GP Surgery hold occasional clinics within the hospital.

Miss Fernandes said: ‘While it is a modern and well-­equipped hospital, I receive a lot of letters from constituents who struggle to get an appointment with a GP within two weeks, or have had to travel to QA for routine check-ups and minor injuries.

‘Given that our local population is steadily increasing, it would make sense to make more use of Fareham Community Hospital and I wholeheartedly support a plan to make it a minor injuries unit with adjoining maternity and elderly wards.’

She said she was concerned about the lack of a breast cancer screening unit at the hospital, meaning that residents in the western wards of Fareham have to travel to Whiteley or Portsmouth.

She said: ‘I believe that this is unacceptable since the mobile unit could very easily locate itself onsite on specified days. In addition, overnight beds at the Hospital would help to ease pressure on existing services.’

Other issues that caught her attention during the visit were the lack of bus services to the hospital and the proposed closure of Bitterne Walk-in Centre, as patients from the Fareham area account for 5.5 per cent of the walk-­in attendance there, and she has since been in touch with Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group, which funds many health services in the area.

She said: ‘Part of my work is to keep speaking up on behalf of Fareham residents when it comes to trying to get a better deal with Fareham Community Hospital and local bus services and I will continue to do so.’

MIND

FOLLOWING her visit to mental health charity Mind, Suella Fernandes called for better mental health services.

She met campaigners and representatives from South East and Central Essex Mind and Solent Mind to hear the experiences of people living with mental health problems in the area.

She said: ‘I’m concerned about the need for better mental health services in Fareham and I wanted to hear of the experiences of people living with mental health problems.

‘Supporting constituents with mental health problems is one of the biggest challenges we face as a country.

‘I was so pleased to see the excellent work Mind is carrying out here in Fareham.’

Every year, mental health problems affect one in four people, which is more people than will develop heart disease or cancer.

Miss Fernandes said: ‘I hope to play a vital role in securing good quality support for people in Fareham, as well as promoting mental health at a national level.’

She said she was also committed to providing more mental health support to women during and after pregnancy.

During her visit to Mind, in West Street, Miss Fernandes trained as a Dementia Friend, helping her to understand the syndrome and how to deal with sufferers.

FAREHAM COMMUNITY HOSPITAL

MORE needs to be done to extend facilities at Fareham Community Hospital so that constituents can be seen more quickly, according to MP Suella Fernandes.

Hospital volunteers were delighted to show the politician the work they do and Miss Fernandes spent the day with the Friends of Fareham Community Hospital, a group of people that volunteer at the Sarisbury Green facility.

She said: ‘Fareham Community Hospital is a fantastic facility but it is clear that it can be put to more and better use.’

The centre opened in May 2010 and the 2,700sq ft hospital provides services such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, MRI, abdominal aortic aneurism Screening, phlebotomy booking service and blood testing and a Dementia Support Group.

In addition, Brook Lane GP Surgery hold occasional clinics within the hospital.

Miss Fernandes said: ‘While it is a modern and well-­equipped hospital, I receive a lot of letters from constituents who struggle to get an appointment with a GP within two weeks, or have had to travel to QA for routine check-ups and minor injuries.

‘Given that our local population is steadily increasing, it would make sense to make more use of Fareham Community Hospital and I wholeheartedly support a plan to make it a minor injuries unit with adjoining maternity and elderly wards.’

She said she was concerned about the lack of a breast cancer screening unit at the hospital, meaning that residents in the western wards of Fareham have to travel to Whiteley or Portsmouth.

She said: ‘I believe that this is unacceptable since the mobile unit could very easily locate itself onsite on specified days. In addition, overnight beds at the Hospital would help to ease pressure on existing services.’

Other issues that caught her attention during the visit were the lack of bus services to the hospital and the proposed closure of Bitterne Walk-in Centre, as patients from the Fareham area account for 5.5 per cent of the walk-­in attendance there, and she has since been in touch with Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group, which funds many health services in the area.

She said: ‘Part of my work is to keep speaking up on behalf of Fareham residents when it comes to trying to get a better deal with Fareham Community Hospital and local bus services and I will continue to do so.’

FIRE

ONE of the hottest topics for any MP at the moment is the cuts to the fire service and how they will affect people living in their constituency.

As a consultation was launched earlier this month, which is asking for people’s views on the savings, Suella Fernandes spent a day with the crew at Fareham fire station.

She took part in the firefighters’ normal day, starting at 9am, including equipment checks, operational effectiveness training and community safety activities.

She discussed local and national challenges facing the service with Hampshire chief officer Dave Curry and Fareham station manager Danny Miles.

Miss Fernandes took part in many activities including entering the firefighter training facility, which saw her wear full protection including breathing equipment in an adapted house in which the fire crew simulated a fire.

The station simulated a car crash site to show her the skill and patience it takes for firefighters to free trapped casualties.

She said: ‘I’m grateful to the fire service for hosting me. The quality of training and dedication by the crew is exceptional.

‘Their job is one that requires high levels of commitment, both physically and mentally, and they carry out their duties with great care for the Fareham community.’

The visit coincided with proposals to transform the way the police, fire and rescue and ambulance services work together, which were unveiled by the Prime Minister on September 11.

Miss Fernandes said: ‘Having visited all three emergency services this summer, I have seen the specialist skills and expertise of our professionals.

‘However, there is a lot of overlap. It doesn’t make sense for emergency services to have different premises, different back offices and different IT systems when their work is so closely related and they often share the same boundaries.

‘I saw how well the police and fire service work well together, and with better joint staffing, the emergency services can only be strengthened.

‘This sort of smarter working can benefit everyone by freeing up resources to invest in fire prevention programmes, and allowing for faster response times when incidents occur ­ saving lives and saving taxpayers’ money.’

She urged residents to have their say in the consultation being run by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.