GP service was debated during planning meeting
A recent Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) Development Management Committee meeting granted approval for another housing development in Cranfield, despite concerns from residents over the increased pressure on the GP surgery.
A CBC spokesperson said that concerns over the lack of healthcare provision from objectors, ward members and committee members were discussed at length.
They added that this included grounds to refuse this application on sustainability. However the Planning Officer advised councillors that while the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) does contain guidance on sustainability, its core purpose is to boost the supply of housing.
It was noted at the meeting that there would be a contribution to healthcare from the developer.
Council is not responsible for healthcare provision
The CBC spokesperson said:
“The council proactively liaises and consults with the NHS so that they are aware of residential developments and can plan their services accordingly. However, we are not directly responsible for the provision of healthcare facilities, in particular the staffing of such facilities.
“The council does consider the impact of residential developments on existing services and infrastructure and would take into account any representations from the NHS/CCG as part of the planning application process.
“In this particular instance, we therefore could not refuse a planning application of this scale on the grounds that there was insufficient medical provision in Cranfield. We know from previous experience that the Planning Inspector would allow the permission on appeal.”
Parish Council discussed concerns with MP
Cranfield’s Parish Council did raise patients concerns over the surgery with Nadine Dorries MP, in June. Ms Dorries said that she reported these concerns to senior decision makers at the Beds Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) at a meeting and with NHS England in writing.
What are the current plans for the surgery?
A spokesperson for the BCCG said that it is working with the practice partnership and Central Bedfordshire Council around supporting the practice to reconfigure the surgery in Marston Moretaine.
This includes moving some of the administrative services into a separate nearby building to free up space to see more patients. This will give the practice an increase in capacity in the short-term (expected to be achieved during 2019).
“We are however mindful of the ongoing housing growth in Marston and Cranfield and the pressure it will place on both surgeries. We are also in discussions around the best long-term arrangements, bearing in mind the opportunities from new housing developments within Cranfield and Marston Vale.”
Staff was found for the new Urgent Care Centre
Since the council decision, the service offered by the GP surgery has been reduced at times due to staff shortages. Effectively meaning that it only provides a four-day service. Staffing has been a long-term issue, however, staff could be found for the Urgent Care Centre at Bedford.
So why is it a struggle to find staff for Cranfield and Marston Surgery?
The BCCG spokesperson said:
“This is not a straightforward issue. The national GP Forward View document describes the challenges facing general practice across the country – particularly the national shortage of GPs.
“It is for this reason that the national and local strategy is based around encouraging practices to work collaboratively, to maximise opportunities to share skills and services, and to create new clinical roles in general practice to relieve some of the burden on GPs.”
The spokesperson added that it is becoming increasingly difficult for smaller GP practices to recruit new GPs. The GP provider covering Cranfield and Marston has tried for some time to recruit additional GP capacity, but they have been unsuccessful to date.
“They [Cranfield and Marston Surgery] have shared plans with commissioners (NHS England and BCCG) around their intentions to develop a more multi-disciplinary approach within the practice and have already started to implement this.
“The extra space at Marston Surgery will help them to consolidate this approach and is expected to help improve access for patients.
“BCCG and NHS England continue to work closely with the practice to help ensure the quality and performance of services.”
Keeping up-to-date with surgery issues
Cranfield and Marston Surgery patients can keep up-to-date with surgery issues by joining the Cranfield & Marston Surgery Patient Participation Group. This group empowers the community to be proactive in making positive health decisions. There is also a Patient Participation Group Facebook page.
The Cranfield and Marston Surgery was approached for a comment.