Doctors support Stowford redevelopment option

SIR - Re: Stowford and the proposed closure of Sidford Surgery

It is common knowledge within the town that the premises which Sid Valley Practice currently reside are the most undersized in East Devon, especially the Health Centre.

There have been many attempts in the past to upgrade the premises, the most recent being a proposed redevelopment with the Devon County Council owned library.

This was originally sanctioned by the Library services in the past but was subsequently rescinded.

The opportunity to develop the Stowford site has arisen and this offers us the chance to upgrade and improve our premises to the standard which is now required for general practice.

We want to offer a first-class service and require top-quality premises in order to provide this.

The Care Quality Commission guidelines ( CQC ) loom in the future and these will dictate the standards of premises for the purpose of General Practice and it is likely that if we do nothing we will potentially fail current standards and regulations.

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To undertake a redevelopment we have to have the support of the Primary Care Trust ( PCT) and the provision of a ‘cost rent ‘ which allows us to borrow money independently to finance the project. We fortunately, currently have the backing of the PCT and therefore the provision of the cost rent, however, this will be withdrawn unless it is used within the near future and may never be available again, with the proposed dissolution of the PCT.

We have the full support of the Patient Participation Group who are campaigning with us to improve all services hopefully resulting in a brand-new state-of-the-art Health Centre at Stowford Rise.

What is essential, however, is that we have the support of the majority of patients in the Sid Valley.

We therefore have to make some difficult decisions: it is clear that there can be only two surgeries in the Sid Valley area and the most logical solution is to redevelop Stowford and maintain and hopefully upgrade the Sidmouth Health Centre but sadly close Sidford.

It is clear that some people will be inconvenienced by this arrangement but it is hoped that many more will benefit from the modern premises which are now essential to general practice.

We would welcome comments and feedback from all those patients who support and oppose this proposed development but hopefully it will proceed for the benefits of the patient’s of the Sid valley.

On behalf of all the GPs had Sid Valley practice