We speak to Rob Lynch, practice manager, about how moving from an old building in the centre of town to a redeveloped edge-of-town office building has proved a great success for Uppingham Surgery

Patients visiting the newly redeveloped and renovated Uppingham Surgery are very impressed by the spacious modern premises. Although it hasn’t moved far geographically, the surgery has come a long way in terms of facilities. The surgery had previously been located right in the heart of Uppingham’s historic town centre inan Edwardian rectory.  Although packed with beautiful period features, the building presented significant drawbacks for use as a modern medical facility not least of which was space.

The partners at the surgery made the decision to purchase an edge-of-town office building previously used by the NFU to redevelop and renovate to provide accommodation suitable to their needs.

The move to the new location was not without its detractors in the early stages of planning. “Although some patients were initially worried about the new location, the majority of patients are really pleased with the new building and the facilities on offer. The large car park has gone a long way towards alleviating people’s concerns. The council has already made alterations to the existing footpath and new bus stops are being planned,” adds Rob.

Downstairs, the new building now provides 10 consulting rooms, 3 treatment rooms (including a minor ops room), a dispensary, 2 phlebotomy rooms, and clean and dirty utility rooms. Upstairs, there is a large meeting space with separate kitchen facilities plus a staffroom, IT server room, administration offices and a dedicated notes storage room with rolling racking.

The practice wanted to keep all clinical facilities on the ground floor. Working within the confines of an existing shell does mean that some compromises need to be made although clever internal design has created a good flow throughout the building. The long corridor leading to the consulting and treatment rooms for example, which might look rather forbidding to patients, has been broken up visually by the design and staggered lighting.

The consulting rooms, which are designed to allow staff to move easily between rooms, have had great feedback from staff and patients alike.

“We were very pleased with Hollandbuild, the contractor,” explains Rob. “The team was responsive, flexible and adaptable to any changes along the route. The standard of work was very good and I’d thoroughly recommend them to anyone considering a similar project. And without Phil Weston of Neil Mason Associates, who was our project manager, I’m not sure the job would have happened.”

“If I were doing the project again, I’d make the waiting area fractionally bigger,” says Rob. “We’d originally planned for it to be larger, but ended up moving it to create more admin space. Patients at the reception desk are slightly too close to those waiting which has the potential to lead to confidentiality issues. The only other problem that we had came about because we were victims of our own efficiency. We had the ISDN line installed a month before we moved into the building, but when we moved in, it wouldn’t work. Apparently, BT had deactivated the line because no one had used it!”

Rob’s tips for GPs or practice managers planning a new development:

  1. Employ a project manager to keep a close eye on progress on your behalf. The job wouldn’t have happened without Phil Weston of Neil Mason Associates.
  2. Even with a good project manager, you will need to hand a big chunk of your day-to-day work over to your team. I reckon that overseeing this development has taken up a good third of my time.
  3. The job doesn’t stop once you’re in the new building. I am now working on making sure the new building is up and running, looking at risk assessments, health and safety and looking for energy efficiency opportunities to reduce running costs.

L to R: Tom Holland of HollandBuild, Rob Lynch and Phil Weston of Neil Mason Associates

L to R: Tom Holland of Hollandbuild, Rob Lynch and Phil Weston of Neil Mason Associates

One of the new consulting rooms