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Botesdale Health Centre expands with new building offering much-needed facilities and equipment

A new building at Botesdale Health Centre opened last week to provide much-needed facilities and equipment to cater to the rapid growth of the village.

The expansion provides two new GP rooms, two health care assistant consulting rooms, a triage room and a training-meeting room, and will enable the practice to better meet the demand for primary care services in the area.

The health centre currently has a patient list in excess of 9,000 people and, with planned development of around 1,000 houses over the next five years, it is estimated that patient numbers could grow to around 12,000.

From left, Dr Lauren Bate, Kevin Bernard, Jo Meekings, Dr Donald MacEachern, Carole Fitt, Dr Tim Cooke and Dr Lisa Fennelow.. Picture by Mark Bullimore.
From left, Dr Lauren Bate, Kevin Bernard, Jo Meekings, Dr Donald MacEachern, Carole Fitt, Dr Tim Cooke and Dr Lisa Fennelow.. Picture by Mark Bullimore.

The project, which took more than four years and £552,000 to complete, was headed by Dr Tim Cooke and practice manager Kevin Bernard.

“We were desperately starting to run out of rooms,” said Dr Cooke, who has retired as a partner after working at the centre for 27 years.

“There were noises in the community that permission was going to be given for more houses on several sites and it became clear that, once that started, it would’ve put a great deal of strain on the facilities that we had without doing a bit of expansion.”

The increased capacity will allow the practice to explore options in delivering more health services locally, with palliative care and dementia support services seen as priorities in a community with an increasingly ageing population.

It is hoped that the facility will be utilised for baby clinics, Macmillan drop-in sessions, outreach clinics and by organisations such as Age UK and Family Carers.

“The good thing is that we now have some more space and we can hopefully expand our outreach clinics,” said Dr Cooke.

“We also want to do more patient participation things, such as walking and running clubs, and we would still like a bit more car parking space, but you can’t have everything.”

At the moment, the centre runs orthopaedic and rheumatology clinics and has an X-ray and ultrasound machine.

The health centre is also expanding its GP training programme, which it believes is important for the future.

“If we get more patients, it is likely that we will need to recruit some further doctors in time,” said Dr Cooke.

“It’s nice to see the project come to fruition and, hopefully, we will continue to provide a very good service for the local community, which is what it’s all about.”

This project was funded in part by the NHS, Mid Suffolk District Council and the clinical commissioning group (CCG).

All internal furnishings have been bought by the Friends of Botesdale Health Centre after fundraising over the last 18 months.

“We are very grateful for the help we’ve had from NHS England, the CCG, the council, a huge amount of help from the Friends of Botesdale Health Centre and the support of all the patients and staff, who had to put up with all the disruption,” said Dr Cooke.

“And a huge thank you to our practice manager Kevin Bernard, who’s put in a huge amount of work to make this project succeed. We’ve both been grinding away at it for at least the last four years.”

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He added: “I wanted it to be done and dusted before I retired – I never dreamed it was going to take more than four years.”

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