Central Bedfordshire Council is backing a proposal that could see a community hospital opening in Leighton Buzzard.
On Friday members of the Central Bedfordshire and Luton Joint Planning Committee gave their backing to a revised core strategy for Luton and the south of Central Bedfordshire, including the towns of Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Leighton Linslade.
The draft strategy includes proposals for a total of 15,000 new homes in the Southern Bedfordshire area between 2011 and 2026, and the creation of more than 28,000 jobs across the area.
The proposed development would fall into the category of sustainable development and as such new health facilities would need to be incorporated into any plans to cater for the community.
The hospital idea has been promoted by Leighton Linslade Town Council and could be situated on land to the east of Leighton Buzzard as part of developments which would see 2,500 new houses built as part of the East Leighton Buzzard Masterplan for the town.
Although there is no clear definition of what a community hospital is, the Department of Health's set out detailed design principles which bids for new community hospitals should satisfy. These stated that services should:
- be locally led;
- provide high quality services;
- re-design patient pathways;
- anticipate future needs as the population changes;
- adopt new technologies;
- plan across primary and secondary care;
- be affordable for the whole health economy;
- promote integrated service solutions;
- engage and harness the potential of staff;
- enable the transition of staff; and
- engage the public, the whole health and social care system and be innovative.
The decision about whether a community hospital will be developed lies with NHS Bedfordshire although a recent white paper on health means that more decision making on a local level will be made by GPs. A local 'health and wellbeing board' is also set to be established to ensure a co-ordination of services between the Primary Care Trust and GPs.
Cllr Tricia Turner MBE, Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council said: "The council is working closely with a wide range of community interests in Leighton Buzzard, including the PCT, to promote better primary care in the town.
"We are actively engaged with the Town Council in developing the Town Centre Masterplan that we hope will reveal options for sites to be considered by the community.
"Central Bedfordshire Council continues to support the delivery of the identified need for improved primary care to be provided to meet the needs for new infrastructure and facilities in Leighton Buzzard as part of delivering sustainable growth.
"Leighton Buzzard is one of the largest towns not to have a community hospital and following the decision of the Central Bedfordshire and Luton Joint Planning Committee to endorse a revised core strategy for Luton and the south of Central Bedfordshire, I believe it is important that residents and future residents of the town receive this important facility."
Source: Central Bedfordshire News Release, 29th July 2010
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