By Mark Isherwood

MS for North Wales

I visited the great team at Rowlands Pharmacy in Connah's Quay, joined by Chair of Connah’s Quay Town Council and County Councillor, Cllr Debbie Owen, to learn more about the extended range of clinical services provided by community pharmacies. This includes free NHS advice on a wide range of minor health concerns, either recommending treatment or referring on to another healthcare professional, some over the counter and prescription medicines free of charge, and a flu vaccine service. The Choose Pharmacy Common Ailments Service aims to free up GP time to deal with people with more complex needs.

As Chair of the Senedd’s Cross Party Autism Group, it was good to meet constituents and staff at the North Wales Integrated Autism Service (North East Wales) Autism Information Event held at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Wrexham.

Having previously worked in the sector, I was pleased to have an online meeting with Monmouthshire Building Society for an update on their work developing the Community Bank for Wales. With retail banks leaving many high streets, this will provide accessible retail banking services to communities across Wales. I learned about their work to address the gap in their provision of a current account; that their outlets will not necessarily be Branches; and that although Buckley is a location under consideration, they are building a criteria-based location strategy, based on hard data.

I Chaired a meeting of the Cross-Party Group on Disability, which included presentations from charity ‘See Around Britain’ on their “huge photo gazetteer throughout the UK and Ireland and mainland Europe, designed for everybody, including disabled people, to help decide if a venue will be suitable for visits” (their interactive, online map can be found on; and from the Federation of Small Businesses on their ‘Business Without Barriers’ Report, which found that disabled people are more likely to be self-employed, but there is a lack of support for disabled business-owners and disabled people are less likely to use business support, and which explored issues including boosting the employment of disabled people within the small business community and the measures needed to support this.

Other online engagements included an Officers Meeting of the Cross-Party Group for North Wales, which I Chair, to plan our future work programme and discuss operational issues; and a meeting as Chair of the Senedd’s Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee with Usk Valley Conservation Group regarding their concerns about the Welsh Government’s purchase of Gilestone Farm, Talybont-on-Usk.

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