Sidmouth GPs put case for new surgery

Unanimous backing for new Sidmouth surgery and library from town councillors

BUILDING a new health centre for Sidmouth patients is “long overdue” town councillors agreed on Monday.

They gave their unanimous backing to Dr Duncan Hall and Dr Ross Dell following a presentation by the GPs at their September meeting.

“This is something that is long overdue,” said Councillor Graham Liverton. “With the pressures put on them with new development in Sidmouth, it should be a priority. I just wish everyone could stop talking and get on with the action.

“You have to think outside the box. I will stick my neck out over the rugby club and say it would be nice if we could move it so there is more room for the whole development. I understand where the club is coming from, but it’s a pity it can’t move to Sidford.”

The two GPs explained how they would need the current library to redevelop the whole site into a modern fit-for-purpose health centre, complete with pharmacy and a confidential patient reception.

“The health centre was built in 1965... for six doctors, one nurse and a few receptionists,” said Dr Hall.

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“Now there are 10 doctors, seven nurses and five health care assistants. We are heaving at the seams.”

He said a Primary Care Trust report said the practice was 43 percent under-sized and ranked bottom in Devon.

The doctors would like a new library to be built on the existing nearby car park in Blackmore Drive, which Dr Hall described as “the best free car park in the town and totally abused.”

He said parking was for surgery and library users, yet it was abused by people parking there all day who used neither.

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Talks between the PCT, East Devon District Council, which owns the car park, and Devon County Council, which owns the library site, are being progressed.

“We are attempting to have a three-way discussion to see if we can progress this forward.

“This is not a new problem, we have been looking at this for well over 10 years. Recent development seen in the town – and at Stowford – has focused our minds wonderfully,” said Dr Hall.

Asked if there was another site where a new health centre could be built, he said anywhere else, away from the town’s hospital, “would be detrimental to patients” as doctors were visiting the hospital several times a day.