General Practice: Large Housing Developments — [Peter Dowd in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:40 am on 29th March 2022.

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Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Minister for Housing) 10:40 am, 29th March 2022

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Dowd. I cannot think of a better way to start my day than by spending it with my colleagues. I offer my hon. Friend Andrew Selous my congratulations and thanks for securing this important debate. As Matthew Pennycook said, it has been useful and wide ranging. Hon. Members will understand that I may not be able to answer a number of questions about health here and now, but I will address some of the points that have been mentioned.

My hon. Friend has been a tireless campaigner for increasing access to GPs for his constituents. I know that he and everyone here wants our constituents to have timely appointments when they need them, and I am sure that everyone will agree that waiting weeks to see a GP is simply unacceptable.

When there is a growing population and a growing supply of new homes, it falls to Government to ensure that local services are not overburdened. Part of the problem is that in the past new development has not always been accompanied by real-world improvements in local infrastructure to serve the new community. When new homes are built, roads feel busier, schools appear to be over-subscribed and appointments for local surgeries and other healthcare provision are harder to book—I see that across my own constituency of Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough. It is an issue that often pits communities against new development because, too often, people feel that planning is something that happens to them, not something in which they are engaged. That needs to change and I say to all colleagues here that I get it.

We need to ensure that new homes automatically translate into new infrastructure, whether that be hospitals, GP practices, schools or parks and play areas, because they are all things that we rely on. I offer my praise to GPs who have worked incredibly hard in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. My hon. Friend Jane Hunt mentioned being kind to the staff at GP practices, which is an important message to relay.

It is important to say a few words about what should be happening, in order to reinforce the message to those who may be listening. Local plans are a way for areas to develop the communities they need. They are key to driving investment in the local area and securing the housing and jobs that our communities need. None the less, those plans should involve all the providers within those communities to ensure they are providing services to match the demands that new housing will bring.