Work to deliver a health and care hub for Biggleswade could resume in June - but it won't be delivered until 2024 at the earliest
Work was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic
Work on the business case for a health and care hub in Biggleswade could resume next month, after delays because of the pandemic.
The local authority's health partners have prioritised containing Covid-19 outbreaks, Central Bedfordshire Council's annual meeting was told.
Independent Biggleswade South councillor Hayley Whitaker enquired about the delivery of the town's health hub.
She described the project as "an essential requirement if Biggleswade is to grow in a sustainable way over the coming years".
Submitting a written question, she asked: "Given there was only one slide on the hub at CBC's health and wellbeing board last month, (April) could the portfolio holder provide a more detailed update on what progress has been made?"
The board was told an agreement in principle is in place for the land at the Biggleswade Hospital site and the delivery timeline is 2024.
Conservative Sandy councillor Tracey Stock replied: "The council alongside our health partners is working towards developing an integrated health and care hub for Biggleswade.
"The hub is intended to serve current residents and the predicted population growth in the Ivel Valley area, as well.
"As stated at the recent board meeting, there has been a pause in activity on the hub because of the pandemic, with the system-wide focus particularly from our health partners.
"So this has altered the timelines for the delivery. Progress on the plans for the hub depends what happens within the pandemic.
"It's very much a changing picture, with the capacity of our health partners to engage in that process," she added.
"The plan is to reconvene the work on the service model and the outline business case some time in June."
Councillor Whitaker explained: "There are already 3,000 homes committed for Biggleswade, with another 400 which may come forward on Furzenhall Road, plus anywhere between 4,000 and 8,000 on the land east of the town.
"The housing infrastructure fund (HIF) money needs to be spent by the end of 2023.
"But the health and care hub is now not predicted until at least 2024 at the earliest.
"We already have residents being asked to attend surgeries in Sandy and Langford because they couldn't get healthcare locally.
"How and when are Biggleswade residents supposed to access health care?"
Councillor Stock explained: "The provision of GP services comes under the responsibility of the BLMK Clinical Commissioning Group.
"It will be familiar with unmet need in Biggleswade, so I will speak to those officers about the local capacity and come back to you."