New medical centre 'cut off'

PUBLISHED: 06:30 10 June 2015

The new Beacon Medical Centre. Ref shs 7767-23-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

The new Beacon Medical Centre. Ref shs 7767-23-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

Archant

The opening of the Sid Valley's £2.1million new health centre has been put on hold at the last minute, because BT has not completed work as planned.

The Beacon Medical Centre was set to be finished on time, within its budget, and open on Monday (June 8) – but a hitch with the phone lines has left doctors ‘in limbo’.

A grand opening and patients’ open evening have now been postponed. Practice bosses said yesterday that they are hopeful of being able to get started by the end of June.

Dr Jo Kinder, one of the eight partners who made a ‘daunting’ collective decision to take out a seven-figure loan to fund the practice, said: “We’ve been through a huge journey to get here, only for it to be scuppered at the last minute by a huge organisation. It’s frustrating for all of us. Everybody’s put so much time in. Now we’re in limbo again.”

Ambitions for a new health centre were first voiced 25 years ago, but delayed by the lack of a suitable site.

The Beacon has been built on the plot of the now-demolished Stowford Lodge, which closed in 2011. Staff were looking forward to getting started in the new health centre building on Monday. The practice’s Sidford surgery closed this week, but with the volume of appointments and the Beacon’s opening date still unconfirmed, bosses decided to reopen it as normal on Monday. Patients are being updated on where their appointments will be.

The Sidford surgery, currently up for sale, will shut again after an opening date for the Beacon is finalised. The new hub, off Stowford Rise, needs the phone lines to be installed for a system to allow a ‘point to point’ link between it and the existing Blackmore Drive surgery - so incoming calls can ring between them.

Facilities manager Emma Vigurs, who placed the order with BT in mid-April, said: “It’s frustrating but it’s human nature that things don’t always go to plan.”

A BT spokesman told the Herald that much of the work was due to take place today (Friday), but this news came too late for the health centre staff to open the Beacon on Monday.

“Even if BT did all this work [today] we probably won’t be able to get in until the end of June,” added Miss Vigurs yesterday. “I hope it will happen this month.”

A patients’ open evening scheduled for June 16 has been postponed. Lloyds Pharmacy’s Sidford branch is set to close tomorrow (Saturday) and its new premises in the Beacon will open on Monday as planned.

See inside the Beacon on page 18.

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