A £2 million-plus bid to provide a new-state-of-the-art GP surgery in Chapel St Leonards has been given priority status by the NHS.
Beacon Medical Practice is seeking to move to a purpose-built facility in the village with the current premises at Ancaster Avenue deemed as not ‘fit for purpose.’
The practice has applied to provide a ‘centre of excellence’ in Chapel through the Primary Care Infrastructure Fund scheme.
The centre could cost between £2.2 million and £2.5 million to build, and those behind it have three locations in mind - Sea Lane, Skegness Road and Ancaster Avenue.
If approved it is hoped building could begin in the 2016-17 financial year.
In response, the NHS has announced the bid is being treated as a priority project and will receive support to move it forward. In a letter to the practice the NHS said the bid would support patients in the community and reduce hospital admissions for the over 75s.
The news was welcomed by partner GP at the practice Dr Jose Quevedo.
Dr Quevedo said: “We are delighted to have got this far. As soon as this scheme was launched we knew we had to respond.
“The practice is showing its commitment and support to the NHS’s objectives, and the greater needs of our patients.”
He added: “ The GPs, nurses and staff already do their best and it has given us no pleasure to see the growing problems at the Chapel surgery, and the effect it has had on our patients.
“We have been trying to get something done for over five years, but there has always been a funding block.”
As well as catering for a larger number of patients the new surgery would provide wide ranging treatments and services
Proposals include specialist clinics, facilities for physiotherapy and counselling, a minor operations unit and larger waiting area.
Bosses at the medical practice say it is too outdated to meet the demands of the increasing number of patients.
Facilities at the surgery were last year criticised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for not providing enough privacy for patients.
Pressure on the practice has increased with the number of appointments by non-registered patients going up from 2,578 in 2008 to more than 9000 in 2013-14.
Lincolnshire County Council statistics show the proportion of patients aged over 65 in the practice area is 26.6 per cent compared to a national average of 16.9 per cent.
A total of 64.1 per cent of patients have long-term health problems compared with the national average of 54 per cent.
The bid was led by senior partner Dr Derek Dewar with support from the Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Area Team, local councillors and the Patient Participation Group.
Practice manager Cathy Brockwell said: “It was a real boost to learn our aims had met with NHS approval in this way. We have recently had the CQC criticising the building, but there is little we could do to improve things within the existing building. However, we are under no illusions.
“The hard work is just beginning if we are to succeed.”