DOCTORS say a £1.8million new health centre for Sidmouth will be up and running by April 2015 after plans were given the go-ahead.

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But GPs face a fight to run their own pharmacy from the hub and need the public’s support ensure their vision is realised in full.

They have also spoken of how the town’s Blackmore Drive surgery is set get an upgrade of its own.

Proposals for a purpose-built health centre in Sedemuda Close - that will care for up to 60 per cent of the Sid Valley’s patients – were approved by the district council last week.

Practice partner Dr Duncan Hall said: “It has been a long battle to get to this stage. Now at least, the project is definitely going ahead.

The project will see the existing Stowford Lodge demolished.

Sidford’s surgery will close to make way for the new facility.

The Stowford surgery will boast 16 GP and nurse consultation rooms and 32 parking spaces.

Doctors want to make the site a ‘one-stop-shop’ by running a pharmacy there coupled with an ‘innovative’ computer system to offer patients a ‘seamless’ service. Receptionists would work in the pharmacy.

Despite landing planning permission to construct this aspect of the centre, the industry’s licensing body has refused an application by practice partners for a pharmacy. They plan to appeal.

Dr Hall hailed the new surgery as ‘a building that complies with modern healthcare’.

“The plan is to be operational in that building by April 2015,” he added.

It is ‘crucial’ GPs receive support from patients over their ambition to run a pharmacy at the new Stowford surgery, according to Dr Hall.

He said: “Tragically, it appears that the new surgery may not have the attached independent pharmacy that the GPs had been so keen to provide, as their application for this has been initially turned down.

“The licensing body felt that there are already enough pharmacies in Sidmouth and that patients were happy with the service provided. “However, the GPs intend to appeal this decision as, without this new pharmacy, the seamless one-stop-shop of seeing your GP and walking out with immediate medication maybe thwarted. Furthermore, the innovative plans for the GPs own computer system and receptionists working in the pharmacy to streamline efficiency may not now be possible.”

The existing Blackmore Drive surgery in Sidmouth town-centre could be completely rebuilt if GPs are able to purchase the property.

Doctors want to buy it from PropCo, which manages NHS-owned premises, so improvements can be made.

“The Blackmore Drive surgery will absolutely stay,” said Dr Hall.

“It has always been our aspiration to do it up. We are still trying to buy it and are working on a business case.

“The least that will happen here is that PropCo will develop it to some degree. Better still, our plan is to buy it and redevelop or upgrade the whole thing. We’ll still do a decent bulk of our work from here.

“The best model would be to knock it down and rebuild it – which could see us work temporarily out of Sidford. That is the only thing that would delay the sale of that site.”

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