We know how important access to local health care is to our residents. Central Bedfordshire has a growing population and it is imperative that the provision of health services grows at a similar rate.
Planning healthcare provision both in the community and in hospitals is the responsibility of the NHS.
Realising the need for better resourced primary care, Central Bedfordshire Council agreed a joint ambition with the local health service (CCG now replaced by the ICB) to build five health hubs across our area. Integrated Health and Care Hubs can include primary care services such as GPs, and also other services that need you to attend hospital. There might also be pharmacy, physiotheraphy and social services, resulting in better joined up care for residents locally and also a reduction in the pressure on hospitals.
The Council is building the first hub at Grove View in Dunstable which is due to open this Spring. We have aspirations to build more hubs across our district including Leighton Buzzard, Houghton Regis, Biggleswade and West Central Bedfordshire. Discussions about Biggleswade were well advanced but have recently made little progress.
The Council can help construct the hubs but only the NHS can provide the GPs and other medical staff. It was therefore very disappointing to hear that the local NHS (the Integrated Care Board) has not allocated any of it primary care estates budget to the hubs, although the ICB says they will look to see if any alternative funding streams might be available.
We will continue to lobby the ICB, NHS England, MPs and Ministers to highlight the immediate need for additional primary care facilities in our area.