Leighton Buzzard and Houghton Regis health hubs unlikely to be built until at least the end of 2024

Pandemic has set back the programme by at least six months

By Euan Duncan
Friday, 9th July 2021, 11:23 am
Updated Friday, 9th July 2021, 11:24 am

A revised timetable for the delivery of health and care hubs across Central Bedfordshire means those planned for Leighton Buzzard and Houghton Regis are now unlikely to be built until at least the end of 2024.

The timeline has moved because of the impact of Covid, a meeting of Central Bedfordshire Council’s health and wellbeing board was told.

“Challenges within the system and the pandemic have caused the programme to be set back by at least six months,” said head of partnership and performance Patricia Coker.

Central Beds Council HQ

“There are important difficulties around building material shortages which may also have an impact on the delivery timeline.”

Director of social care, health and housing Julie Ogley said: “The council’s committed to fund the first two hubs, but not the remaining three.

“So we’re looking for capital. The capital in the NHS to date has been around the acute hospitals and beds.

“We’re hopeful there might be some coming forward for primary care. It’s one of the reasons why we’re persisting to get the business cases sorted out.

“So if funding does become available we’ve got something ready to bid for. If colleagues are aware of other funding streams then it would be good to name them, so we can get the other hubs rolled out as well.”

Ms Coker explained: “For Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard the likely start date on further work for this hub over the service modelling and schedule of accommodation has shifted to the second quarter of 2022.

“That’s when we aim to begin this work and really it’s about getting the right fit for those areas.

“Although we have a core vision of what health and care hubs need to look like, we need to match that to those communities.

“We also expect to commission work to develop the outline business cases about the same time.

“As we develop these outline business cases we’ll also be looking at that framework for the spokes as well to get a better sense of what we might need in our rural areas.”

The delivery timeline for Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard is at the end of 2024.

“The preferred site in Houghton Regis is the Kingsland site, an asset of the council,” added Ms Coker.

“There are various developments, so we need to see how the hub matches the progress on that site. There’s a lot of work going on in Leighton Buzzard looking at transformation which is supporting how services work together to improve outcomes.

“We’re not waiting for the hub to be there physically. We’re improving the experience as our services become more joined up and better aligned.

“By the time the hubs finally arrive it will be a case of carrying on as we’ve been working.”

A construction contract has been awarded for the Chiltern Vale hub in Dunstable and site works begun, with a groundbreaking scheme planned for August, according to Ms Coker.

“We’re also beginning to study the work streams as it’s about a way of working to ensure a smooth delivery and transition of services into the hub,” she said.

“It’s much more than the GP practice. It’s about bringing services closer to people within their communities, enabling a co-location of services.

“It’s where primary care, community care, mental health, social care and the voluntary sector can work together, enabling more joint working.”