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In the Commons yesterday Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff expressed fears about the impact of large increases in housing numbers on the local health service.

He was told that Evesham community hospital could be in line for expansion and redevelopment as part of the solution to this challenge.

In Health Questions, Peter questioned Government minister Dawn Primarolo MP about the provisions being made to ensure that adequate health services will be provided in south Worcestershire should the significant increase in housing numbers, planned under the regional spatial strategy, be fully implemented.

Ms. Primarolo reassured Peter that every measure would be taken to ensure the local health infrastructure would be able to cope, and that this could mean the development or expansion of Evesham community hospital.

Commenting later Peter said:

"The planned increase in housing in South Worcestershire is so vast that it is going to have a huge impact on every aspect of the local infrastructure. It is vital that steps are taken to ensure that infrastructure is updated and able to cope before any increase in housing takes place.

"I welcome the Government's reassurances that the effort is being made with regard to local health services. I am particularly pleased to hear the government endorse the emerging plans to expand and develop Evesham community hospital. Not so long ago the people of Evesham were fighting to keep it open, so such a change of attitude by ministers is hugely satisfying for all who campaigned to save it.


Full text of the exchange:

Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire) (Con): What assessment he has made of likely changes in demand for health services in the west midlands resulting from new housing developments in the region; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Dawn Primarolo): The local NHS, in conjunction with other stakeholders, plans, develops and improves services to local people. In addition, the Department provides guidance and support to encourage local NHS services to promote well-planned, healthy and sustainable communities.

Peter Luff: The Minister knows about the genuine concern in south Worcestershire about the demand on our local infrastructure posed by the significant increase in housing numbers, planned under the regional spatial strategy numbers that the Government want to increase still further. What reassurance can she give that the necessary increase in the area's health service infrastructure will be in place before the houses are built to ensure that existing residents and newcomers have full and proper access to the NHS?

Dawn Primarolo: As the hon. Gentleman knows, the local health service will constantly be looking to ensure that it is planning for the population that it has and for expected population growth. However, there are further requirements on both local authorities and the NHS to work together through their local area agreement to ensure that any planned housing development includes the plans for any necessary health or social care. He will know that Worcestershire PCT has formally set up a committee to look into exactly what the future growth in housing in the area may be and, therefore, what any future demands may be, including the development or expansion of Evesham community hospital.

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