Historical look at Sidmouth Health Centre

Original practice partner looks back

SIDMOUTH Health Centre, formerly the Blackmore Health Centre, was founded in 1966, and opened in January of that year.

It was hailed as one of the first health centres of its type in Devon and designed for the six partners at the time, according to Dr David Hall, who was a practising GP and partner in Sidmouth for 30 years before he retired in 1990.

Today, 10 full and part time practicing GPs work at the surgery- and a lack of space has heralded calls for change.

The site was purchased in 1965, because of its prime location, opposite Sidmouth Victoria Hospital.

Original plans were made, after the six partners at the time researched their ideas for what they wanted the practice to look like.

These original designs were described by Dr Hall senior as: “Ideal, a really decent health centre.”

Most Read

The six partners at the time, Drs Gibbens, St. Cin, Michelmore, Hall and Atkinson, travelled to ‘the only known health centres that they knew of’ in Bristol and Hampshire for ideas. However, after early designs were agreed upon, it was then decided they were too costly and the surgery would be halved to make space for a new library.

Dr Hall Snr said doctors were ‘unhappy’ with new sketches because the proposed centre was ‘the wrong shape’ and didn’t compare to the previously promised design- a circularly shaped building with a central coffee and meeting room in the middle.

On their quest for ideas to add to their new surgery, the partners gained one crucial piece of advice from existing GPs at the Bristol and Hampshire branches- to make sure there was a meeting room.

The partners took this into account and so were insistent one be included.

Dr Hall Snr said they were somewhat disappointed when the plans changed. They did accept the building, but were aware that it wasn’t really what they wanted.

Of the health centre that remains today, Dr Hall Snr said: “It needs to be rebuilt. It is too small, and always has been.”

Current GP and practice partner, Dr Duncan Hall, said of changes to the health centre in his time: “We had to sub-divide the meeting and coffee room into two consulting rooms because of the lack of space.

“We did manage to re-locate the coffee room, but it’s fair to say the location is suboptimal.”