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Newbury "super surgery" officially opened

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Plaque unveiled at new Strawberry Hill Medical Centre

Newbury’s largest surgery, dubbed a “super surgery”, has been officially opened at a special unveiling ceremony.

Plans for the closure and relocation of St Mary’s Road and Northcroft surgeries to one site at Old Bath Road first came before West Berkshire Council in 2014.

At the time, council officers warned of traffic and highways safety issues and refused to back the project until amendments had been made.

Finally, given the green light in October 2014, the former offices at Strawberry Hill House were subsequently transformed into the Strawberry Hill Medical Centre, with 20,000 registered patients.

Opening up on April 18, staff and patients attended a ceremony on May 4, when the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, James Puxley, unveiled a plaque to mark the event.

GP partner at Strawberry Hill Medical Centre Abid Irfan said of the opening: “This merger and new building is an exciting development and allows us to offer high-quality medical care and a range of services from a brand new, bespoke medical facility.

“We have had great support from our patients and NHS partners over the past few months and we really value the positive contribution they have made.”

Dr Irfan added that, as with any major relocation, there had been some initial teething problems, but noted that these were mostly IT-related and had since been resolved.

He said that the responses he had had from patients so far had been overwhelmingly positive about the new facilities and that one area that staff was hoping to branch into was the use of video consultations.

Director of commissioning and NHS England Debra Elliott said: “This is an exciting milestone for Strawberry Hill Medical Centre.

“This is a great example of clinicians coming together to provide quality primary care services for the future.”

The newly-merged practice will retain the same opening hours as at the previous two surgeries and has introduced a new minor operations unit that staff said had been used once already since the site opened.

Inevitably, not everyone is impressed and reaction to the new surgery has been mixed on social media, with some criticising the lack of information ahead of the move.

One patient, Chris Hall, wrote: “The lack of communication with patients is woeful. They should not rely on the Newbury Weekly News to notify us.”

Another wrote on Newburytoday.co.uk: “Interesting news. Improved service to the community does not extend to notifying existing patients that they will have to go to a different location and use a different contact number from Monday.

“This just reinforces the view that this is about the commercial interests of the practice rather than the interests of the patients.”

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