Council 'reinstates' funding for healthcare provision across parts of Central Bedfordshire

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Independent CBC administration restores £10m to capital funding programme for healthcare provision in partnership with Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board

A £10m boost to help fund health provision in Leighton Buzzard and other parts of Central Bedfordshire has been restored to a local authority’s capital spending programme.

The cash incentive will be spread over two years and aims to rally support from BLMK integrated care board (ICB), which provides health services locally.

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A potential health and social care hub in Leighton Buzzard appeared to have been withdrawn from Central Bedfordshire Council’s capital plans.

Health professional with a patient. Picture: Fernando Zhiminaicela from PixabayHealth professional with a patient. Picture: Fernando Zhiminaicela from Pixabay
Health professional with a patient. Picture: Fernando Zhiminaicela from Pixabay

But Independent Houghton Conquest and Haynes councillor Rebecca Hares told its executive “accessibility to health has been raised repeatedly”, before proposing an amendment to CBC’s proposed expenditure.

“We don’t have a stand alone health and care policy with clear aims about how we support the ICB in its responsibilities to deliver those services,” explained executive member for health and community liaison councillor Hares.

“My amendment is to introduce about £10m into the capital budget to show we’re committed to supporting our health colleagues where appropriate to provide facilities.”

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Executive member for finance and Independent Aspley and Woburn councillor John Baker said: “I suggest it would be prudent to consider £5m in 2026/27 and £5m in 2027/28.

“It’s with the expectation this has to be delivered as a partnership, as we won’t deliver improved health services on our own.”

Conservative Clifton, Henlow and Langford councillor Richard Wenham warned: “While we can agree with the sentiments behind it, this is a pretty unsatisfactory process.

“We’ve always put money in the pipeline in previous years on a self-funded basis for health facilities to show our intent to support the ICB. That might be a better approach.”

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Conservative Heath and Reach councillor Mark Versallion said: “I’m grateful this has been reinstated. We were upset when the health hub was removed form the capital programme.”

Liberal Democrat Leighton Linslade South councillor Emma Holland-Lindsay said: “It’s really positive. I appreciate this. It’s progress.

“Our residents have waited long enough. The time for talk is over and the time for action is now, so we all have to take that responsibility.”

Independent Leighton Linslade West councillor Victoria Harvey suggested: “There’s a key player in this we’re forgetting, which is the primary care network (PCN).

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“Our PCN is led by Dr Henderson, who’s extremely popular in Leighton Buzzard as he’s seen as fighting for the town. He has the funding for more staff for an urgent access clinic.

“He just needed a few rooms, not a whole health hub. Despite constant lobbying, nobody took proactive action on that. It’s a real tragedy we’ve not looked at a low cost capital solution which could have really helped healthcare.

“We missed what might have changed the lives of vulnerable people. I’m glad we’ve a practical approach and a figure in the budget.

“I wish my fellow politicians in the town could put aside massive political dreams for actually getting some short-term wins on the ground which would make a difference.”

The executive committee agreed the amendment and a recommendation to full council to approve the updated capital programme 2024/25 to 2027/28.