The Sid Valley Practice is to improve and expand facilities at its Beacon site, while re-locating the Blackmore practice to Sidmouth Community Hospital in the town centre next year.

The expansion at Beacon will make 16 new rooms available for patients and staff in late 2023. More physiotherapists, pharmacists and mental health workers will be able to work from the site, as well as administration support and a team to support care home residents.

Dr Joe Stych, a GP at Sid Valley Practice, said: “This is excellent news for the people of Sidmouth and surrounding areas. The expansion enables us to provide significant additional capacity to our clinical teams, ensuring we can provide much more access to appointments for our patients.

“With well-known challenges across the country in the recruitment of GPs, it’s vital that GP practices expand their clinical teams to a wide range of specialties, and we will be able to provide this additional workforce through the new, expanded space.”

Rooms will also be available to student nurses, medical students, and GP trainees.

Dr Stych added: “Access to more clinical space will help us to attract future doctors and nurses to the area. We will also have more room for social workers, midwives, mental health workers and research nurses to see patients locally, which is vital to improving patient care.”

The additional space will also enable the practice to see more patients from the Newton Poppleford area, who have been keen to join the practice list for many years.

An extra operating theatre at the Beacon site will provide more operating time for skin cancer surgery and carpal tunnel surgery, saving patients from having to travel to Exeter.

Office staff will move onto one site to streamline administrative services and provide more efficient handling of phone calls.

The Blackmore branch surgery, which lacks safe and modern healthcare facilities, will relocate to Sidmouth Community Hospital, meaning the practice will be able to continue seeing patients in the town centre if they cannot travel to Beacon.

GPs and the wider clinical team will run clinics from both the Beacon and hospital sites, ensuring patients from across the town have access to their GP and continuity of care. The same services that were provided at Blackmore will be provided from the hospital.

Dr Stych added: “We have worked very closely with our Patient Participation Group, our patients and Healthwatch Devon to ensure that people continue to receive care in the town centre and that the re-location to the hospital doesn’t adversely impact their care.”

Patients will be able to access Beacon or the hospital for their GP, nurse or healthcare assistant appointments. The Sid Valley Practice will have exclusive use of three clinical rooms, waiting room space and a manned reception.

Dr Stych said: “By expanding our facilities, we will be able to attract more clinical staff to work at the practice, helping to make our services more sustainable and safeguard them for the future, in turn improving access for patients to appointments.”

The changes have been welcomed by Healthwatch, which was commissioned by Sid Valley Practice to seek further local opinion on the proposed Beacon Development, specifically with harder to reach groups.

Pat Harris from Healthwatch said: “Our report showed a clear need from patients to maintain a service in the town centre and that many patients considered that extension plans would be beneficial. We are delighted this patient feedback has been listened to and used to develop and enhance the service on offer to the local community.”

The expansion project received a grant from NHS England. South West Interim Director of Primary Care and Public Health Commissioning Liz Cosford said: “This is fantastic news and was supported by the NHS England Estates, Technology and Transformation Fund to carry out design and planning of the extension.

“Once complete, the expanded site will allow teams to provide high quality care and treatment to the local population.”