AFTER what felt like an eternity waiting for a new doctors' surgery in Wiveliscombe, life in a modern state-of-the-art facility has flown by for staff.
This week marks the six-month anniversary since the opening of the £2million surgery and reporter MICHAEL MARSH popped along to see how things were going.
The cramped Bollams Mead site was bursting at the seams, with staff working out of cupboards and hot-desking from room to room.
But life is much more comfortable at the £2million facility on Croft Way and bosses say they are now able to deal with their 6,800 patients more efficiently, plus cope with any expansion to the town with hundreds of homes planned.
Manager Emma Spiller said: “Patient numbers have remained static but we expected it to be like that for a number of months.
“However, we are in a better place to deal with them and have better conditions to do so. We have new fixings and staff are much better placed to work, unlike at the old site.
“To sum it up, we are delighted with the new premises and the facilities.
“Parking is easier and we have better disabled access, so in the future when the town grows or if we need to adapt to suit NHS policies we will be in a good position to do so.”
A new surgery has been in the pipeline for years – in 2005, the County Gazette reported how the existing surgery was too small and could not cope with the high demand of patients after the GP contract was introduced.
These days, patients are ‘enjoying’ their experience a lot more and are impressed with the new facilities.
Peter Berman, vice chairman of the patient group, said: “We are in the middle of collating views from patients and seeing what they like or don’t like about the experience at the new surgery.
“So far, feedback has generally been positive with many patients commenting on the waiting room and reception area.”
There are now dedicated receptionists to deal with visitors and others to deal with calls, meaning patients get undivided attention.
“It is much better for staff,” added Peter. “My wife used to be secretary at the old practice and when she came to have a look at this she was green with envy.”
Receptionist Helen Gouldson said: “Working conditions are fantastic now and even though patients are unwell, they are still happy coming into a much better building.”
The County Gazette took a tour of the building with MP Jeremy Browne in September, while construction work was still taking place, but this was the first visit since it was built.
Mr Browne has also visited the health centre and praised the modern facilities that patients in the area now enjoy.
He said: “Patients previously had very cramped and out-dated facilities when they went to see the doctor.
"The space was so limited that staff were sharing rooms and even working out of converted cupboards.
"I was very supportive of a new health centre being built in Wiveliscombe and I was impressed by the development when I visited it during the construction phase.
“It is great to see it is now fully up-and-running and providing excellent facilities. There are more consulting rooms, better facilities for staff, a bigger waiting room and more parking spaces.
“It is a great improvement and I am delighted that the town has benefitted from this substantial investment.”