Leighton Buzzard's health services need to meet demand says Central Beds Council leader

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Council says it is working with the NHS to provide more services

Central Bedfordshire Council has said it is committed to a health hub in Leighton Buzzard after local campaigners called for more action on the long awaited scheme.

The comments came after the Bedford, Luton & Milton Keynes (BLMK) Integrated Care Board announced plans to build a new GP surgery with some additional primary care space, in the east of town.

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Welcoming the move, campaigners say they are still very concerned that there appears to be no movement on the long-promised health hub for the town. Plans for a Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) Health Hub network announced in 2018 predicted that the Leighton-Linslade Health Hub would be complete by 2023.

Central Beds Council's headquarters and insist, Councillor Adam Zerny, Leader of CBCCentral Beds Council's headquarters and insist, Councillor Adam Zerny, Leader of CBC
Central Beds Council's headquarters and insist, Councillor Adam Zerny, Leader of CBC

CBC said it was working closely with the BLMK ICB and residents’ groups in Leighton Buzzard with regard to early-stage plans to bring a new healthcare facility to the town.

A CBC spokesman said: “We've worked closely with NHS partners to build a new integrated health and care hub in Dunstable and have aspirations for similar joint developments in other areas.

“The feasibility study published by BLMK ICB earlier this year recognises the need for additional health and care premises to keep pace with housing development and the important challenges residents face in accessing primary care services in Leighton Buzzard. BLMK ICB is now moving to the next stage to develop an outline business case.”

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Councillor Adam Zerny, Leader of CBC, said: “We are committed to working closely with local NHS services and residents’ groups in Leighton Buzzard on the next steps to address the health and care issues in the town. Although planning for additional healthcare provision is in the early stages, I’m pleased this issue is being taken seriously and BLMK ICB is taking the next step to explore a possible solution and funding options.

“We are grateful for the work conducted by the town’s Patient Participation Group (PPG), which has done much to set out local issues and preferences. It is important that the findings of the survey carried out by the PPG is considered in the next stages.

“Leighton Buzzard, like many towns in Central Bedfordshire, has seen a big increase in development. Health services need to keep pace to meet the demand.

“New healthcare facilities will not come cheap. Defining what we want does not mean we have the funding in place. Regardless, it's important we aspire to improve not just Leighton Buzzard but all our towns, especially given the recent petition which shows a very strong wish for more healthcare facilities in Biggleswade.

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“We welcome the ICB’s Chief Executive Felicity Cox’s comments that improving access to health and care across our area is a priority for the Integrated Care Board and the intention to continue to work with all relevant groups to get the healthcare residents need.”

In a statement this month BLMK said it was working on an outline business case to “consider in detail what form any additional health facility in the town could take, what services could be provided and, crucially, how such a facility could be delivered in an affordable and sustainable way.”

A services company has been appointed to provide the expert technical and financial support required to undertake the process, with expected completion by Spring 2024.