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New £2.1m GP practice stands empty after BT phoneline fiasco

A GP practice has been forced to delay the opening of new £2.1m premises and re-open their old branch because of problems getting phonelines installed.

The Beacon Medical Practice in Devon was due to open on 8 June but was forced to cancel an opening ceremony, rearrange countless patient appointments and make last minute arrangements to re-open their old branch a week after it closed as a result of the problems setting up the installation.

The practice placed the orders for new systems with BT in April, but it has only just received a provisional date for installation of 3 July, and it is unclear when it will be able to open after then.

Dr Duncan Hall, partner at the Sid Valley Practice which is moving into the new premises, told Pulse the problems were down to telecoms giant BT dragging its heels and that the delays had caused ‘total chaos’.

Dr Hall said: ‘We still have no operational telephone line coming into the new surgery. We have to use a company, South West Communications, and they are at the mercy of BT – they say they can’t escalate anything because BT won’t.’

He added: ‘It’s been total chaos – we basically had everything booked and now we have had the opening ceremony cancelled, and all the patient appointments have been mucked up. We are able to stay in our current premises but it’s caused havoc.’

Dr Hall said he wanted other GPs potentially planning to develop new premises to be forewarned about the potential delay.

He said: ‘There’s lots of other practices potentially doing GP development and quite clearly this is a warning they need to get things worked out way in advance.’

Practice manager Emma Vigurs said: ‘Obviously a great deal went in to the organisation for the opening that was due on the 8 June.  With the delay with BT works we then had to use an enormous amount of man hours to cancel all the preparation which has a huge impact on patients, re-arranging their appointments back, the practice and outside contractors that we had in place to assist with the move.’

Ms Vigurs added: ‘We re-opened our branch surgery after one week of closure so that we can still provide a high standard of service to our patients… at present we’ve not put in a definite move date until we know of more definitive date about the BT job for the phone lines for the surgery.’

BT was unable to comment at the time of publication, but said it was investigating the situation at Beacon Medical Practice urgently.