Local MP again raises New Build & GP Shortage Issue in Parliament

• Taking part in a House of Commons debate on 8 June 2022, Andrew Selous', MP for South West Bedfordshire, highlighted the problem of capturing funding to build new GP facilities alongside new developments.

He told the House, "The Secretary of State will be aware that, at the moment, someone can build tens of thousands of houses but people wait years and years for increased general practice capacity. Those from the Rebuild Britain campaign whom I met this morning tell me that they believe that integrated care boards and trusts will be prevented from requesting section 106 money to mitigate the impact of new housing, and medical facilities are but one of 10 types of infrastructure that there is no duty on local authorities to provide. Is he really confident that this will be better under the current Bill?"

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Minister for Intergovernmental Relations responded, 

"I am absolutely confident it will be better, but my hon. Friend makes a very important point, which is that section 106 agreements—sometimes they work, and in many cases they do not—do need to be improved, and the proposals for our new infrastructure levy should do precisely that. However, the way in which the infrastructure levy will operate is something on which we will consult to ensure that it covers not just the physical infrastructure required but, as he quite rightly points out, the provision of critical healthcare."

Later in the debate, Andrew Selous brought up a tragic case of a constituent's death,

"This morning I learned the very sad news that a 51-year-old constituent, a father of four children, had received a diagnosis of terminal cancer, which was spotted far too late. His GP surgery is in the town of Leighton Buzzard, the third largest town in Bedfordshire and the biggest in my constituency, which has grown massively in size and where all the GP surgeries are somewhat swamped, to put it mildly, by the residents who have recently come into the town. The new Clipstone Brook surgery is not coming to pass, and we have no indication yet of whether there will be a health and wellbeing hub in the town.

'I use that tragic story—and all our hearts and sympathies, I know, go out to my constituent’s wife and four children—to illustrate the point that when we build tens of thousands of new homes, we need to be every bit as rigorous in making sure that the increased general practice capacity is put in at the same time as those houses go up as we are when it comes to the provision of school places.

'On Tuesday, I celebrated being an MP in this House for 21 years. In that time, I have rarely found a child without a school place to go to. We generally do public administration quite well in this country. Sometimes we run ourselves down—I think that is a fact—but we can do well for school places. We plan well, and when we build new houses, we make sure that, in the main, there are primary schools for those children to move into. Why is it, then, that we have such difficulty with making sure that the increased general practice capacity is in place? We can do better, and for the sake of my 51-year-old constituent, we have to do better.

"What people generally do not understand is that NHS England provides hardly any additional funding for health infrastructure to cater for the impact of new housing. There is £105 million in total for the whole of England, £90 million of which is ringfenced for technology for GPs, leaving jut £15 million. That is around £2,600 per GP practice. What are they going to do with that? We really have to do better. Local authorities have no statutory requirement to provide health services—quite understandably, I think most of us would say. If we look at page 294 of the Bill, in schedule 11, we see that medical facilities are just one of 10 types of infrastructure that the infrastructure levy is supposed to provide. All the other nine are extremely worthy, and I do not want to argue against a single one of them in favour of medical facilities, but I say to my right hon. Friend the Minister, who I know is taking this issue seriously, that we have to get it right.

"This is what my constituents care about more than anything else: the ability to see a doctor when they need to do so. When we build thousands and thousands of new homes, we really have to do better. The advice I have had from some very experienced health planning lawyers and from the Rebuild General Practice campaign is that there are fears that the Bill might make the situation worse, and that it will certainly not really fix the problem, so I say to the Minister, whom I have met privately on this issue: please, please take this away and, for the sake of all our constituents, get this right."

Debate: Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill
– in the House of Commons at 1:22 pm on 8th June 2022. Read in full.