Councillors have called for an ‘urgent’ review of Buckinghamshire’s GP practices and other key NHS facilities to tackle the primary care ‘crisis’.

A new cross-party group warns that primary care – GP pharmacy, dentist and optician services – are threatened by the ‘continuing rise in population and expected housing growth across the country’.

In a new report, they say that these issues will compound the current shortage of NHS dentists and GPs, and patients’ perceived inability to get appointments.

In response to these issues, the councillors call for an audit of current GP and primary care facilities, the results of which should be mapped against future population growth and need.

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They also call on Buckinghamshire Council to pressure the health secretary for a review of primary care funding and the methods of procuring more space for GP and other services.

One of the councillors, Stuart Wilson, branded the current formula for GP funding and the procurement of new facilities ‘an outrage’.

He claimed that giving the responsibility of improving GP facilities and securing new sites to the GPs themselves was a near impossible task for the already-overstretched practices.

GPs also suffer, he says, from a lack of support from the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire & West Berkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB).

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “You have got this crazy combination of private ownership of GP practices and an ICB that has no money.”

Cllr Wilson explained that the only new money available to GPs was through development, but that to secure the cash, a project must be approved by the ICB.

He added: “The ICB says it doesn’t come up with projects, that is the responsibility of the GP. When it evaluates the GP project, it says, ‘well you don’t have any developer contributions’.

“But you can’t secure developer contributions until you’ve got an approved project. That is Catch-22.”

The councillor claimed that this situation meant that Buckinghamshire’s existing primary care facilities were highly unlikely to ever be improved or replaced.

He took his own ward of The Wooburns, Bourne End & Hedsor as an example of the ‘Catch-22’ situation.

Cllr Wilson highlighted the lack of improvements to medical facilities in the area despite the large housing developments on the horizon such as Slate Meadow and Hollands Farm.

He said: “We will end up with over 1,000 new dwellings in Bourne End and Wooburn but none of the improved medical facilities as required in the Wycombe Local Plan.

“That is an outrage and demonstrates a complete lack of joined up thinking.”

The councillor said the three GP surgeries that make up Bourne End and Wooburn Green Medical Centre were not sufficient, and ‘inconvenienced’ patients and staff.

After a long search, the medical centre found a local employment site it could use to develop new ‘state of the art facilities’.

The centre’s plans progressed to an advanced stage but were rejected by the ICB in 2023 due to a perceived lack of demand growth and lack of developer contributions.

Cllr Wilson said: “There is no way without the ICB’s support that they could secure the developer contributions, so they lost that premises and are back to square one.”

A spokesperson for Bourne End and Wooburn Green Medical Centre said: “We have invested considerable time and money in trying to find a suitable site for a modern healthcare facility to replace our three outdated ones.

“We need clear direction and support from both the ICB and the local planning authority, as well as substantial financial contributions from developers, to ensure we can deliver the new healthcare facilities required for Bourne End and Wooburn as evidenced in the Wycombe Local Plan.”

The Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire & West Berkshire Integrated Care Board has been approached for comment.