Sunday, 20 October 2013

Stowford Lodge Health Centre: the views

The Town Council have enthusiastically welcomed proposals for a new Health Centre at the site at Stowford Lodge
Futures Forum: Stowford Lodge Health Centre: the background

Home - Sidmouth Herald

There will be an open meeting for all Sidmouth residents, organised by the Patients Forum on Wednesday 30th October, with an opportunity to see the latest plans.  
Details have not yet been finalised - but will follow. 

There is some disquiet, however:
1. Given a choice, large numbers of residents would still prefer the main Medical Centre to be in the centre of town. [see letter below]
2. There had been the alternative choice of expanding the Centre on the current site, with hopes of cooperating with the County Council on refurbishment projects for the adjacent Library. [see Sid Valley Practice notes below] 
3. The computer images give the proposed new building the appearance of a 1960s office block. [see Herald article above] And yet new NHS financed GP surgeries can look inviting..... e.g. the relatively new Surgery in Lyme:

Lyme Regis Medical Centre - Welcome

From the letters page of the Herald this week:

Access is vital
Saturday, October 12, 2013 
Regarding the new health centre at Stowford Lodge, featured in the Sidmouth Herald this week, in which inaccessibility was not mentioned.
The present proposal does not fulfil this requirement.I accept the need for a more up-to-date centre, but surely the first consideration, even before seeking planning permission, should be its accessibility to the majority of patients to be served from Sidford and Sidbury, who are currently registered at the Sidford practice.
There is no direct bus service, so how are patients who are either very sick, 80-90 years of age, pregnant mothers unable to drive, to mention a few, going to overcome this problem?
The long steep walk to Stowford is impossible, particularly in winter when darkness falls early and sections of the A3052 do not have a pavement.
It is impractical to suggest that Sidford/Sidbury patients should register at the town practice because of the weight of numbers.
Neither is suggesting the use of a taxi, for financial reasons.
Before going any further, we must have a straightforward answer to this question which will suit the majority of patients affected by the proposed closure of the Sidford practice.
Perhaps the free hopper bus run for the benefit of holidaymakers could be switched for the free use of patients?
Marjorie How
Sid Vale Close

And from the Health Centre:

Patient Feedback - Stowford
We have been recording the concerns and questions that have been raised at the drop in sessions and at the public meeting as well as those sent to us by email and post.
A list of the key questions raised, along with our initial response to these is published below. We will add to this question and answer list as we receive more feedback.
If you wish to comment in any way you are welcome to contact us through the following routes:

The Strategic Development Team, NHS Devon, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, EX24QL.

Telephone/Text: 07855422713

We will respond to you and will also include any new questions raised and our answers on this website.

An Overview of the Proposal

The practice has a unique opportunity to resolve a number of longstanding problems arising from the limited space available to them.  There is now a very real possibility to purchase the Stowford Lodge site for a new surgery.  This would offer greater space, flexibility and clinic capacity.  This development would mean the Sidford surgery would no longer be required and there would be two surgeries in the valley in future – the New Stowford surgery and Blackmore Health Centre.  

In September it will be necessary to progress beyond the current preparatory phase, and therefore  the practice has been sharing information and discussing this proposal to help people understand the reasoning and to identify views and concerns so that wherever possible these can be addressed.  This is an excellent opportunity for medical services in the Sid Valley and we hope our proposed way to solve the longstanding space problems will be supported.

Questions and Answers

Why is this necessary?
The current premises available to the practice are equivalent to approximately 55-60% of the space needed to provide services to the practice population. We have explored many possibilities to address this problem but until now have been unable to come up with a suitable scheme. This may be our only chance to do this and make the improvements we want to make for our patient population.

Whose idea is it?
This is the GPs’ idea. We are supported in this by the Primary Care Trust and the Patient Participation Group.

Is it to save money?
No it is not to save money, it is to improve services for our patients. The scheme will cost the Primary Care Trust money, but the PCT has been trying to support us to achieve better facilities for the Sid Valley for some years.

Can money from developers be used to help this plan?
We have asked the council about this, and we have been told that this is not at the moment possible.

What other options have been considered?
We have considered many other options:
1. A development on the Sidmouth Rugby Club ground
2. A development on the site of the old Fortfield Hotel
3. Redevelopment of the current site either including the library or with the library moving to another site.
4. Increasing the size of the current Sidford surgery.
5. Moving the Health Centre to another site in the town

Each of these options has been vigorously pursued but each one has either proved impossible to deliver, or has not had the potential to give us the accommodation that we need.

Can there be 3 surgeries?
The population size does not warrant three surgeries.   It is important that any scheme we propose is viable and sustainable.  We would not be able to run 3 surgeries because of the duplication of staff functions that would be required. In any case the additional finance that will be made available to us gives the opportunity to increase our facilities but not to run three surgeries. 

What about geography?
Wherever we site our surgeries there will be some people who can walk to them and some who cannot. The new surgery is sited near a lot of new housing development and also near to a lot of elderly people.

Why can’t we expand the Sidford Surgery?
We have looked at this but even the maximum expansion that we could achieve would still leave us with inadequate capacity both now and in the future. Green Close has been mentioned but this is not available for us to use.  We believe the Stowford site is the best opportunity.

What happens to the money paid for Stowford?
This money is paid to the Devon Partnership Trust who presently own the Stowford site.

Who owns the Sidford surgery?
The GPs own the Sidford surgery.

Who will fund this move and rebuild?
The Primary Care Trust will provide the additional funding required to achieve this.

Do you plan to knock down the current Stowford building?
The decision on this has not been made. We probably would should this scheme go ahead, but since the final decision to pursue this has not yet been made the details are still being discussed.

Who will own the buildings? Will the GPs make money? Who will pay?
The GPs will own the building. The Primary Care Trust pays GPs to provide premises fit for the delivery of primary care services. That payment funds schemes like this. It is possible that some of the GPs may make a profit from this but there is no certainty.

Has the Sidford building been sold already?
No it has not and we have no idea at present who, if anyone, may buy it.

Will improvement work be done to the Sidmouth Health Centre to match the standards and comforts of a new building?
We would certainly hope to be able to do this, but it would depend what money was available.

What negotiation has happened with the bus company? Is the council aware and helping?
We have asked the bus company about possible adjustment of their routes and timetables. The council is aware of this and is being helpful.  It will be some time before the new surgery would be established and this means we have the opportunity to explore the possibilities further.

Is this all agreed and no change possible?
No this is not all decided. The decision to go ahead or not is dependent on a number of factors including the evidence of need, meeting the required standards,  and of course the feedback from patients. There do not have to be detailed plans approved before the decision to go ahead is made.  A number of parties are involved: Devon Partnership Trust (the owners of the site), the practice and the Primary Care Trust.  The Primary Care Trust will make the decision about whether the scheme will be funded and supported to go ahead.

What is the timescale?
The Sidford surgery would continue to function until the new surgery actually opens. If the scheme goes ahead we would hope to start building by March 2013 and to be working in the new building one year later.

What will be the parking situation?
We are aware of the parking problems at Sidmouth Health Centre. The car park is owned by the council and serves the library as well as the health centre. It is too an early stage in this project to be definite about the car parking at Stowford.  We hope there would be sufficient parking and certainly hope to ensure that there is a drop off point for patients right at the door which would be an improvement on what is currently available either in Sidford or at the Sidmouth Health Centre.

What is the future of pharmacy services?
The practice cannot comment on the decisions pharmacists may make. We hope that there will be a pharmacy at the new surgery. The Primary Care Trust makes the decisions about the opening of a new pharmacy through a formal applications process.

How will people be able to access repeat prescriptions?
We try to make repeat prescription access as convenient as possible for patients. We have a number of mechanisms in co-operation with the local pharmacies and that patients can access. We will always welcome suggestions from patients or carers about how we can improve these.

Will people be able to see their own GP?
We agree that continuity and access to your own GP is very important. We will continue to seek to promote this. We would certainly try to ensure equal access to female GPs at both sites.
Patients would have choice on where they register. This will be easier to deliver if this scheme goes ahead since at present the capacity at Sidford is overstretched and it is hard to give patients that choice.

Will the proposed new surgery in Sidmouth have adequate parking space for the increased number of patients attending by car?
A major consideration for the development of the site is for the provision of adequate parking. We are aware of the need to provide as much parking as possible

If public transport is used to attend from Sidbury, how long will it take to reach the proposed new surgery?
The partners cannot yet tell you how long it will take to reach the proposed new surgery from Sidbury. They are negotiating with transport providers about possibly changing the current bus routes to make travel to and from the proposed site more convenient.

Are there convenient bus stops for coming and going from the surgery to Sidbury?
Part of our negotiation about improving the bus services is the establishing of convenient bus stops for coming and going to the surgery from Sidbury. There are several bus stops in Sidbury at present and there is a bus stop adjacent to the site of the proposed new surgery.

How frequent are the buses?
The current service X53 along the A3052 is hourly.  However, as already mentioned, the partners are continuing in negotiation with transport providers.

How far from the proposed new surgery is the nearest pharmacy?
There may be a pharmacy on site at the new surgery

What is wrong with the existing surgery?
The only problem with Sidford surgery is that it is not large enough to provide the capacity is needed to provide services to Sid Valley patients. Even if the surgery is expanded to the limit of the land that is available, it would still not have the capacity to provide the facilities that the growing and increasingly aging population of Sidmouth needs.

What extra treatments will be provided at the new proposed surgery? – e.g. x-rays, consultant suites etc.
There are no plans to provide any specific extra treatments at the new surgery. There would be consulting rooms that could be used by hospital consultants, Community Psychiatric nurses, Social services and others. There would also be a properly designed and equipped minor surgery suite allowing more surgery in Sidmouth. However the main benefit will be that there would be enough space for the surgery staff to give the best possible service to patients.

Will the need to attend the RD&E for consultant investigations be eliminated?
The need to attend the R.D. and E for consultant investigation will not be eliminated, though the partners are planning for it to be reduced by arranging for some consultant sessions at the surgery.

What will it cost to remove the present surgery premises?  (please give exact figures)
Any cost of removing the present surgery premises will be borne by the GPs

How much will the new premises cost?
How much will the proposed new project cost? (e.g. surveyors, architects, planners etc.)
The cost of the proposed new project includes the cost of the premises. It is not possible to give an exact figure at the moment but it is in the region of £2,300,000

Will the annual council tax be increase – if so, by how much? (give cost per band per annum)
The annual council tax will not be increased at all since the District Council would not contribute in any way to the project costs.

Thank you.
The doctors at Sid Valley Medical practice.


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