Warning over lack of Houghton Regis health hub funding with 10,000 new homes on the cards
'The town has the worst health outcomes in Central Bedfordshire'
No money is allocated to provide a primary care hub in Houghton Regis, despite it "having the worst health outcomes in Central Bedfordshire", a meeting heard.
The town could face an epidemic, given around 10,000 homes are earmarked for the local area, warned Labour Parkside councillor Antonia Ryan at a Central Bedfordshire Council meeting on September 23.
In an open question to Conservative Dunstable Watling councillor Eugene Ghent, she asked: "Can he advise me how much capital funding there is for the Houghton Regis medical hub?"
"No, I can't I'm afraid," replied councillor Ghent, who's the executive member for housing and assets. "Off the top of my head I can't give you an answer to that question."
Councillor Ryan explained: "There's no capital funding for the Houghton Regis medical hub. I'm telling you there's none. Absolutely none.
"I've spoken to the NHS in Bedfordshire and we've got no money to build the hub. The town has the worst health outcomes in Central Bedfordshire.
"We've 10,000 new homes coming to Houghton Regis. This is going to end up with an epidemic in the town.
"Can you give me assurance there are urgent talks happening about this? I guess not.
"And that there'll be a strategy in place to ensure we're meeting the needs of local residents and that we're putting in place infrastructure when we're building these houses?"
Councillor Ghent reminded her CBC's health and wellbeing board provides an update on the progress with all the health hubs at each meeting.
"Currently we're working on the Dunstable health hub and the one for Biggleswade," he said.
Councillor Ryan later explained in a social media post: "Residents have raised concerns with me about the current waiting times at GP surgeries.
"So I took the issue of funding and timescales for the new medical hub to councillor Ghent, who's responsible for the project.
"Rather than providing a detailed answer, he said he's 'no idea'. The NHS has alerted me to the fact that no capital funding has been secured for this project at the moment.
"Worryingly, our doctors are currently managing unprecedented demand due to Covid.
"And with the expected housing growth of some 10,000 new homes coming to Houghton Regis, this is no time for the highly paid councillors to have no idea what's happening.
"I'm demanding the council holds urgent meetings with BLMK Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure residents can access the care they need at the right time and in the right place."
The CCG has been working closely with CBC regarding primary care provision in Houghton Regis.
"This includes our joint intentions for ensuring adequate local health and community infrastructure provision for the growing communities across Central Bedfordshire," according to the CCG.
"A joint piece of work was carried out to review the future needs of the Houghton Regis area and how this can best be provided," it said.
"As a result, the council and CCG have a shared ambition to develop an integrated healthcare hub in the town.
"There were a number of potential locations, but the preferred one is the Kingsland site for which the council has a number of developments planned.
"The site offers the best potential to provide integrated services for all the comunities across the Houghton Regis area.
"But as a system we've been unable to secure the necessary capital funding to start progressing delivery of the hub.
"Partners will continue to seek opportunities to bring the scheme forward and we'll be in a better position to confirm likely timescales once funding is secured."