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NHS England issued warning after GPs missed out on funding from new housing

Plans for new housing developments in Norfolk prompted NHS England to issue a warning over GPs being blocked from local infrastructure funding.

In board papers released by Broadland District Council this month NHS England said proposals for 170 new homes in Brundall would leave GP practices unable to cope with additional patients – unless the council allowed access to additional funding.

Norfolk and Waveney LMC chair Dr Tim Morton told Pulse he is aware of similar situations across the East Suffolk district and in Norfolk, with his own practice in Beccles facing the development of 1,350 new homes with no new allocated funding other than capitation fees.

NHS England said GPs should be given some of the money from the community infrastructure levy (CIL), which local authorities can charge developers for and then pass on to local services of their choosing.

It argued that without the funding, Brundall Medical Partnership and Blofield Surgery, both located within a 2km radius of the planned housing developments in Norfolk, would not be able to ‘maintain sustainable primary healthcare services’.

‘NHS England and the CCG do not have funding to support development growth,’ said the board papers.

But in the papers, the council said healthcare services are not included on its list of eligible recipients for infrastructure funding ‘and contributions from CIL therefore cannot be sought’.

The documents added: ‘Officers consider that the responsibility for health provision remains with the health providers, primarily with NHS England, who provide funding for doctors based on the population / number of patients in an area.

‘The residents in new developments will contribute to this national funding through taxes in the same way as existing residents.

‘Consequently, in general terms the impact of a new residential development on existing medical facilities is managed by health providers.’

A Broadland Council spokesperson told Pulse the housing proposals had since been rejected.

They also stressed that the list of eligible CIL recipients is not exhaustive, adding the ‘approach taken by the Greater Norwich authorities does not preclude developer funding for health facilities’.

NHS England and Improvement’s director of finance in the east of England, Jeff Buggle, said: ‘The CIL is available to public service providers and we lobby councils to ask for a share of the fund in order to provide healthcare services. Whilst NHS England can request funding from the CIL, the decision of where this money is spent remains with the council.

‘The NHS does have its own capital resources but accessing the CIL and Section 106 funds means funding can go further for the community.’

Pulse has previously revealed that local authorities are often failing to pass on infrastucture funding to GP practices. 

Councils in England and Wales can access the CIL to help deliver infrastructure to support the development of an area, including health and social care facilities alongside hospitals, transport, schools and flood defences.

But the legislation, which came into effect in 2010, does not force local councils to spend any of the money on general practice.

Housing developments continue to pose a threat to GP practices in other parts of the country.

Pulse recently reported that a practice in Wrexham launched a formal objection to plans to create 300 new homes, which it warned would make GPs’ workload ‘unmanageable’.