Report says health bosses need more input in major housing development plans

North Northamptonshire has a number of large urban developments underway, such as the High Hayden Garden  Community in Rushden.
North Northamptonshire has a number of large urban developments underway, such as the High Hayden Garden Community in Rushden.

A new report says North Northamptonshire’s health bosses need to have more input into the delivery of major new housing developments and the required healthcare facilities.

After years of poor partnership working between planners and health commissioners a joint post of Health and Planning Manager was created in April this year, aimed at tackling a series of issues including poor and late input to planning consultations and some planned-for facilities not being delivered at all.

Chief executive of the Northamptonshire clinical commissioning groups Toby Sanders says an estates programme is being worked on.

Chief executive of the Northamptonshire clinical commissioning groups Toby Sanders says an estates programme is being worked on.

Since then much work has been done, including workshops, input into local plans and the creation of a new health impact planning tool, but the latest report by the North Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit (NNJPU) says that there is still much work to do.

It says: “Good initial progress has been made, but there remains much to do, notably revising the local health sector’s input into the delivery of major new developments and associated healthcare facilities. The need for this is recognised at a senior level within the clinical commissioning groups.”

The population of the area is expected to increase by tens of thousands by 2031, but a recent report by the NNJPU said there is a infrastructure funding gap of £307m in the north of the county.

Healthcare plays a large part of this requirement, with more GP surgeries, dentists and pharmacies needed.

And as part of the NHS 10-year plan there is a change in the way services are delivered, with more focus on local provision and new primary care networks created, which have recently seen new groups of GP surgeries set up.
The report says while the new model is being developed more problems in terms of how health and planning link up could be created.

It says: “This shift in approach will inevitably have implications for the type of health (and wider care) facilities / buildings that will be needed in our communities in the future, including to serve major new developments.

“Current discussions are around multi agency/multi-functional hubs that could include health care, social care and wider local authority and voluntary sector support.

“However, while these models are being developed, it is currently unclear exactly what types/size of facilities will be needed within the county, where they will be needed and the ownership/management arrangements. This poses a challenge for the health sector to respond to planning colleagues in relation to health care requirements to serve major new developments. This will hopefully be addressed by ongoing work on estates planning within the Health and Care Partnership, where evolving service delivery models will inform more detailed proposals for health care building /facilities.”

The Nene and Corby CCGs – which together are responsible for the healthcare commissioning and planning in Northamptonshire – appointed a new joint chief executive in November last year.

Tony Sanders took over from Carole Dehghani and admitted there had been insufficient investment in the county’s health estate, with Northamptonshire being the only area in the country not to receive any capital funding in the past three years . He has said a new estates strategy is being drawn up but this has not been made public as yet.

North Northamptonshire’s only acute NHS hospital, Kettering General Hospital – which serves an ever growing population – is groaning at the seams and its under-pressure accident and emergency department is serving twice the number of patients it was originally intended for.
A spokesperson for the Northamptonshire CCGs said: “The creation of the jointly funded Health and Planning Programme Manager post is helping planning and health to work more closely together, inputting directly into our estates strategy and supporting requests for section 106/ developer contributions to healthcare where appropriate. As the paper itself states, input into planning consultations has not always been as robust as we would wish, and this post will resolve some of the historic issues to ensure the population of Northamptonshire benefits from the county’s rapid development.”