Plea over Leighton-Linslade health hub funding rejected 'with regret'

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'GP practices remain the responsibility of the Clinical Commissioning Group and the NHS, not the council'

A motion calling for funding streams to be found to promote a health hub in the Leighton Buzzard area was rejected “with some regret” by a local authority committee.

But officers will continue to explore other options to progress the project, Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive heard.

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Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey put forward her motion to full council highlighting “the slow pace with the health hub in Leighton Buzzard”.

Health hub calls for Leighton BuzzardHealth hub calls for Leighton Buzzard
Health hub calls for Leighton Buzzard

It referred to Leighton-Linslade as “the only town of its size in the UK without even a local minor injuries unit” and described it as the furthest town in Central Bedfordshire from a major hospital. And it asked for “central accessible locations, rather than the proposed one to be considered”.

Councillor Harvey was concerned new facilities are aimed at development to the east of Leighton Buzzard and would be inaccessible to the rest of the town.

The council meeting heard that the responsibility lies with the NHS and the motion was referred to the executive, where councillor Harvey wanted “to achieve cross-party working on this”.

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Noting “a disconnect between the report and the debate going on in Leighton Buzzard” she said: “It’s not an attempt to queue jump.

“When two sides are speaking in very different languages you end up with frustration and bitterness, while everyone becomes entrenched and it becomes difficult to move forward.

“There’s a definite need for more hospital services because we’re between 11 and 14 miles from the nearest hospital and accessibility can be a major problem at times.

“I understand how health hubs have been worked out on the number of patients per GP and the square metreage of that. That doesn’t allow for the distance to get to hospitals, which is another issue and we’ve three very different (GP) business models in Leighton Buzzard.

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“There’s a desperate need for more space for physiotherapy, pharmacies and social prescribing.”

Three different site options for the town were considered in 2018, land south of the High Street, land south of Vandyke Road and the Leighton Buzzard VOSA test station.

“If we work with the community so much can happen,” she added. “If only we could have an open debate about what Leighton Buzzard really needs and what the community can deliver we could get somewhere.”

Conservative Sandy councillor Tracey Stock replied: “There’s no capital sourcing or allocation at this time. We continue to work with our NHS partners to seek external funding methods. GP practices remain the responsibility of the Clinical Commissioning Group and the NHS, not the council.

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“There was a pilot scheme launched in Leighton Buzzard, last month, based on key professionals working together and run by East London NHS Foundation Trust, which includes multi-disciplinary teams.

“The Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust is interested in our space and have taken up a lot in Dunstable to transfer services from hospitals.”

Conservative Dunstable Watling councillor Nigel Young accepted CBC or Leighton-Linslade Town Council can lobby, but said: “It’s entirely a matter for the NHS or the CCG to bring forward a business case proposal for revenue and capital before anything can happen.”

Liberal Democrat Linslade councillor Peter Snelling called on CBC “to be more proactive”.

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Independent Aspley and Woburn councillor John Baker, on a lighter note, suggested if the town council sorted out the gritting of pavements in winter it might reduce minor injuries locally.

Conservative council leader and Arlesey councillor Richard Wenham said the first recommendation “to reject with some regret councillor Harvey’s motion” was unanimous, as was a second vote in favour of executive asking for alternative approaches with officers.