GP’s anger over state of Sidmouth town centre surgery

PUBLISHED: 15:17 16 March 2016

The Sidmouth Health Centre on Blackmore Drive. Ref shs 10-16SH 7178. Picture: Simon Horn

The Sidmouth Health Centre on Blackmore Drive. Ref shs 10-16SH 7178. Picture: Simon Horn


Doctors struggling to treat patients in a building branded ‘not fit for purpose’ have voiced frustration at their landlord’s failure to carry out vital renovations.

Sid Valley Practice partners were denied the chance to buy the Blackmore Health Centre – which was instead taken over by NHS Property Services in 2013 – and have spoken of their sadness over the worsening state of the premises.

Once described as ‘the most innovative health centre in the South West’, the building was branded ‘not fit for purpose’ by Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors in July.

GPs revealed this week that - despite repeated efforts on their part – the new landlord has failed to make the six-figure investment needed to modernise the Blackmore Drive surgery.

NHS Property Services is responsible for managing 4,000 NHS buildings and is tasked with driving efficiency and modernising or selling on sites as needed.

The company has said it is aware of the issues and is ‘actively working with the practice to find the best way of meeting their need for upgraded premises’.

GP Dr Joe Stych – one of the practice partners – said: “The practice was trying to buy the health centre to modernise it. Dr Duncan Hall [partner] was pushing really hard so we could keep control of the centre and redevelop it. We had a big survey done on the health centre and there is a six-figure sum needed to bring it up to scratch. Once NHS Property Services were in process, we could not get a dialogue from them. We have had a lot of meetings and they agreed something must be done, but it all fizzles into nothing.”

After a failed bid to expand their Blackmore Drive surgery into the library, partners turned their attention to developing the new Beacon Medical Centre, off Stowford Rise. The GPs are shouldering the £2.1million loan for the new state-of-the-art premises and they say they are ‘absolutely committed’ to retaining a town centre site.

Dr Hall said: “Private ownership by interested partners would offer the best chance of moving this dilapidated building forward. Blackmore Health Centre was at one time the most innovative health centre in the South West and probably further afield. It is sad.”

Chairman of the Sid Valley patient participation group, Di Fuller, said: “The Blackmore Drive Health Centre is very convenient and what people are used to, but it’s very dilapidated. It is getting much worse and it’s a very difficult situation for the practice to be in.”

A spokesman for NHS Property Services said: “We inherited the site as part of the 2013 health reforms and are aware of the issues at the property. We are actively working with the practice to find the best way of meeting their need for upgraded premises.”

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