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How we future-proofed our premises

Pracitce manager Gene Clark explains why Mortimer Medical Practice in Herefordshire decided to invest £2m to future-proof its premises and how the practice approached the build.

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When Mortimer Medical Practice took over the surgery in Leintwardine, Herefordshire in 2002, the building stood as a semi-detached bungalow. Structural constraints - such as narrow door frames - limited our ability to meet health and safety regulations, but an electrical inspection confirmed the building was unfit for purpose as a medical facility.

Initially, the practice’s renovation began with alterations to doorways as an attempt to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). Although access within the practice improved, it remained insufficient. We also wanted to meet the stringent regulations of the CQC so a serious redevelopment was inevitable.

The opportunity for funding arose through the then Herefordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT).

Although the practice negotiated funding from partners such as Royal Bank of Scotland the money we raised did not stretch to cover total redevelopment costs. Luckily we were granted additional funding through the PCT, which allowed us to move forward with the designs.

What the project entailed

Plans for the new facility started in 2002 and the project was flagged as a priority scheme within the Strategic Services Development Plan (SDDP).

Bournville Architects was commissioned in 2009 to design a 525m2 building which not only reflected existing requirements but also anticipated longer-term (ie 30+ years) changes in primary care. We also wanted to ensure that the building could meet the demands of a rising patient population.

Their innovative design concepts and sustainable building principles adhered to our values.

The new GP-owned facility now comprises consulting rooms, an extended nursing area, training facilities, improved access and a secure pharmacy, as well as easy access to community services such as dementia nurses, physiotherapists and health visitors.

Based on passive solar design principles, the building incorporates rainwater recycling, a sustainable urban drainage system, improved thermal performance and mechanical ventilation and heat recovery to improve environment performance.

Without supportive staff and partners, it would have been impossible to regulate day-to-day priorities during such an over-arching redevelopment. You need professional partners who are absolutely embedded in your team such as Bournville Architects, our engineering consultant EC Harris and our building contractor Speller Metcalfe. Herefordshire CCG has also been very supportive.

Results

Our patients often express their delight about the transformation of Leintwardine Surgery.

They recognise that we needed to build for the future. The increase in space, the facilities we have and the services that are now available within the community all combine to ensure our primary health care is safeguarded for the next 30 years in our local community.

Advice for others

Throughout the re-development at Leintwardine Surgery, our major limitation was the weather.  Although this is unavoidable, it was unaccounted for during initial plans. The practice is constructed in a Roman town, meaning a full archaeological survey was conducted before the renovation. That left a three-metre deep hole which subsequently filled with melting snow.

When the time came to digging out the practice’s drive way, construction had to be placed on hold until the water was drained. Without doing so, the lower village would have been flooded.

With so much trust being placed on partners – be they architects or contractors – you need to be meticulous when determining who is most compatible with you and the desired outcomes of your project. Stringent planning definitely leads to a superior development.

  • Gene Clark is practice manager at Mortimer Medical Practice in Herefordshire

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