Herts Advertiser Comment: Is council just wishing on a star?
PUBLISHED: 19:30 18 July 2016
As wish lists go, it is pretty impressive - more GPs and larger surgeries, additional specialised units for older people and the continued expansion of existing schools as well as a couple of new ones.
Apparently such improvements will be needed to cater for the 436 homes to be built annually in the St Albans district should the draft Strategic Local Plan (SLP) - the council’s planning blueprint for the next two decades - be adopted.
They are part of an infrastructure delivery plan which has been drawn up to sit alongside the SLP and as well as more GPs, specialist units and an increase in school forms of entry, it refers to the centralisation and rationalisation of hospital provision in West Herts, shifting more services to the community, and the development of ‘hubs’ to provide more community care.
Wish lists are all very well but let’s get real here - what are the chances of any of this happening? Well, okay, there is talk of Harpenden Memorial Hospital becoming a community care hub but extra GPs and more school forms of entry - really.
For a start there is a shortage of GPs across the country with fewer and fewer junior doctors wanting to go into general practice because of the planned increased in hours.
Shifting services out into the community has been talked about for years but has never really materialised - which is why talk of superhospitals never goes away. But with hospital trusts hugely in debt, the chances of money being found, other than using the dreaded Private Finance Initiative to fund a new hospital, is highly unlikely.
And as for school places, the proposed Harperbury Free School was turned down and most schools have already been extended as much as possible.
So don’t hold your breath for infrastructure improvements - they are about as likely as David Cameron becoming leader of the Labour Party.