How we built our brand-new surgery
It’s been a 12-year struggle to replace our branch surgery, but the results have transformed what we can offer patients, says Dr Andrew Black
Name Leintwardine Surgery, Mortimer Medical Practice, Herefordshire
List size 3,000
Full-time equivalent GPs 5.5
It took 12 years to complete the work
We were working in a tiny two-room, prefabricated army surplus building in rural Herefordshire, which desperately needed to be replaced. It had an asbestos roof, had been wired in the 1950s and provided no disability access - and there was no other surgery within 10 miles.
Funding from cost rent didn’t cover building a new surgery, but we got extra support from the former PCT because it realised the existing surgery was never going to pass a CQC inspection. Completing the new building took 12 years because of problems with finances and changes to the NHS, not to mention the fact that we were building on the site of a Roman fort and had archaeologists there for two months. They found 6,000 pieces of pottery, all of which had to be catalogued, removed, carbon dated and examined.
Replacing our premises has preserved vital services
Services like chiropody and health visiting had been lost because the old building was so unsuitable. We’ve got all these services back now, as well as some new ones and a fully stocked dispensary. Our previous dispensing room was so small that we couldn’t stock all the medication our patients needed.
A lot of our patients are elderly and travelling to our main surgery isn’t an option, never mind going the 40 miles to the nearest hospital.
We now have a minor operating suite, which speeds up diagnosis
We have three consulting rooms, a nurses’ room, a minor operations suite and a healthcare assistant room. There’s also one room specifically designed to train registrars and students.
A physiotherapist visits two days a week, which has cut down the number of referrals to orthopaedics, while our minor operating suite means we can remove skin lesions for diagnostic purposes within days.
We also have a local enhanced service for dermatology.
Our green design saves money
The new building is highly energy efficient and this keeps ongoing running costs down. It’s packed with insulation and we’ve got underfloor heating, which reduces the amount of electricity we use. The roof is fitted with 18 solar panels to generate electricity, which makes a change from working in the old building, which used electric wall heaters. We also harvest water. Because the design increases our potential capacity, it also lends itself to future list growth.
Having new premises has stabilised our income
Our new dispensary is useful for patients as the nearest chemist is about 12 miles away. The money this earns has helped cushion some of the financial difficulties facing other practices at the moment and also attracts staff. We continue to get good applicants for jobs, despite there being a recruitment crisis for GPs in Hereford.
We’re known as a practice that gets involved - our partners are active in the CCG and LMC, and we teach medical students and also cover a community hospital. We’ve also been a very stable practice; a recent recruit is replacing the retired senior partner, but before that, the last partnership change was 13 years ago.