Health centre hope for Sidmouth’s Stowford Lodge

GPs earmark site after “torturous” search

DOCTORS have earmarked Stowford Lodge as the solution to their “torturous” search to provide the Sid Valley with medical facilities fit for the 21st century.

GPs are in negotiations with NHS chiefs to purchase the Sedemunda Road premises and propose to redevelop the site as a purpose-built health centre.

The possible new surgery would supplement the existing and under-strain Blackmore Drive hub – recently ranked 47 per cent too small – and could cater for up to 9,000 of its 14,400 patients.

Work would begin early next year if the mooted sale becomes a reality and plans are approved.

“The doctors and members of the Patients Participation Group believe these developments to be a very exciting step forward which will carry the endorsement of the community,” said Primrose Dodd, chairman of the Sid Valley Patients Forum.

“It will ensure, at long last, that the Sid Valley has medical facilities suitable for the 21st century.

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“While the detail has yet to be worked out, it is intended that a new purpose-built health centre is created at Stowford.

“This will form the headquarters of the practice. The Blackmore surgery will enjoy a cosmetic make over and serve the town-based community.”

Mrs Dodd described the long search for a new facility as “torturous”.

Dr Duncan Hall, a health centre partner, said of the plans: “They sort out all of our problems without compromising the excellent position of our Blackmore Drive facility.

“Redevelopment at Stowford will supplement the existing health centre and massively improve patient care.”

Mrs Dodd added that Sidmouth Health Centre is in “final discussions” with Devon Partnership Trust and NHS Devon regarding the new premises.

Proposals are subject to ultimate approval by the North Devon Primary Care Trust and planning authorities.

A spokesman for Devon Partnership NHS Trust said: “We’re extremely keen to ensure that Stowford Lodge is retained for a worthwhile community purpose when it is sold.

“The potential benefits to local people of retaining the site as a community health resource are obvious and both parties are keen to proceed as soon as possible.”