Health and care partners came together to mark work on a new £5 million health centre for people in Longton South.
The tree planting ceremony, which followed social distancing guidelines, was attended by representatives from Stoke-on-Trent City Council, local GP practices, NHS commissioners and Stoke-on-Trent South MP, Jack Brereton.
The event, which was originally planned for March, had been delayed for six months due to the coronavirus lockdown.
The new medical centre will provide a new home for two of Longton’s existing practices, Willow Bank Surgery and Longton Hall Surgery. It will also house a pharmacy and other facilities.
The building has been designed to deliver services to around 20,000 people and is expected to open in summer 2021.
Capital for the scheme is being provided by NHS England and NHS Improvement, while Stoke-on-Trent City Council is funding the construction of the pharmacy. The building will be owned and managed by the city council, and leased to the GP surgeries.
Lynn Millar, Director of Primary Care for the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs said: “This is Phase One of the development. The site has also been earmarked for the development of an Integrated Care Hub to serve the south of Stoke-on-Trent, so it is extremely significant to the way we plan to transform community services.
“It will see a greater range of community services provided locally and more heathcare workers working in a collaborative way as part of integrated teams.”
Lynn Millar and representatives of Willow Bank and Longton Hall Surgeries talk about the new health centre.
Willow Bank’s Longton premises already closed as the landlord served notice on the rented property, meaning patients currently have to travel to the Meir site.
Longton Hall Practice Manager and Managing Partner Mike Sheldon said: “This is really exciting – both for our patients and our staff. For patients, the site will be more accessible as it is on public transport routes and has extra car parking, and the building will provide a much more modern environment. We also hope to offer a greater range of services which could potentially cut down on the need for hospital trips.”
GP Principal Dr Asuri Vasudevan added: “This new site will provide us with thoroughly up-to-date facilities, and will improve collaboration with other providers including the voluntary sector.
“It will also support our plans for training undergraduate and postgraduate medical staff, as well as other primary care clinicians who are crucial to the development of the NHS workforce. We’re counting down the days until we can move in.”
Councillor Daniel Jellyman, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Infrastructure And Heritage at Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “It’s brilliant to see work progressing on the site – this scheme is another prime example of us working with partners and bringing back to life a disused site for the good of the community. We have also invested in a pharmacy to ensure residents have access to medical essentials as well as healthcare professionals.”
Councillor Ally Simcock, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health Care at the city council said: “The health centre will be a great addition to the community. It’ll mean that residents won’t have to travel as far to access vital healthcare and medical services, and they’ll all be available on the same site. I am looking forward to seeing the centre take shape now that the building work is in full swing.”
A spokesman for Sandycroft Construction added: “Sandycroft Construction are proud to be collaborating on a significant landmark project, that will influence and help our local communities for many years to come.”