High-profile Biddenham health hub facing “some challenges”


Two high-profile primary health projects in Bedford borough have “some challenges” to be met before they can be delivered, a meeting heard.

A report presented to the BLMK Integrated Care Board (ICB) Primary Care Commissioning & Assurance Committee on Friday (16 June) gave a summary of activities and developments relating to Primary Care Estates, including two projects in Bedford borough.

Nikki Barnes, head of system & ICB estates told the committee that “good progress” is being made across a wide range of projects, but some do have “challenges”, including the new premises scheme in Biddenham.

“We’ve previously reported financial viability challenges with the scheme,” Ms Barnes said.

“We continue to work with the range of partners involved in the scheme to consider our options, but as yet, we’ve not yet arrived at a workable solution.

“It’s not appropriate for me to talk through all of the details of that here because there are some commercially sensitive elements.

“I think it’s important that committee members are clear that it remains a challenging scheme for us to progress at this stage.

“But we’ll obviously continue to work around that,” she said.

The committee was also given an update on the North Bedford Programme/Reprovision of The De Parys Group project.

The report said that the business case approval has been received from NHS England/Department of Health and Social Care.

Ms Barnes said the delays in getting business case approval have caused some further challenges, such as cost pressures and relocating services to enable delivery of the project.

“We have very close monitoring of all of these issues within the executive level programme board,” she said.

“The programme is being remobilised and we’re making good progress so far but again. I just think it’s prudent that we highlight that it remains a complex and challenging scheme,” she said.

The report added the commencement of works is targeted to start in November 2023, with project completion August/September 2024 – timescales to be finalised once procurement is complete and the programme agreed with the contractor by Autumn 2023.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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