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Doctors defend moving surgeries to Poundbury - Dorset Echo Story

The Dorset Echo ran the story below on the 8th March 2005.

DOCTORS today defended plans to move two Dorchester town centre surgeries to Poundbury.

Practices in Prince of Wales Road and Cornwall Road are set to merge and relocate to a new shared site off Bridport Road.

Patients have criticised the proposals, claiming the move is 'cost-cutting' and that the new site would be too far away from Dorchester town centre. But GPs today said the surgeries must move because the current two Victorian sites are 'old-fashioned'. They said that plans for the surgeries to move into a purpose-built facility on the planned brewery development off Weymouth Avenue were shelved because of 'impracticalities'. Dr Chris Milner, senior partner in the Prince of Wales Road surgery, Dr Andrew Riddoch, partner of the Cornwall Road surgery, and Primary Care director Carole Lawrence Parr claimed the Poundbury move will help improve healthcare. In a joint statement they said: "Both surgeries currently operate from Victorian premises in "These old-fashioned buildings are now too small and are no longer able to provide the modern and accessible range of health services that we wish to provide - these buildings cannot even provide the level of access required under the new Disability Discrimination Act.

"Therefore, remaining in the current buildings is not a viable option".

The decision to move was backed by South West Dorset Primary Care Trust and comes after a lengthy search for a new building.

The statement continued: "The Eldridge Pope brewery site was given very serious consideration, but unfortunately it required too many compromises to make it a viable option.

"The alternative site, adjacent to the Bridport Road between old and new Poundbury, was identified and evaluated. This site met all the requirements of both practices more fully than the brewery site. In terms of planning for future health needs, this site would also better serve the needs of Dorchester as a whole.

"The parking offered here is of a much more appropriate scale than could be achieved in any of the other locations."

The statement adds: "Secure bicycle parking will also be provided, although from the patient surveys carried out at the present surgeries the numbers walking or cycling are limited even at their present town centre locations."

Patients have criticised the amount of consultation on the scheme. But the doctors said details of the plans have been displayed in both surgeries and question-and-answer sessions are planned.

They add: "We recognise however, that there will be patients who feel they would rather transfer to another practice in the town centre, and we have been assured that the remaining practices are able and willing to register new patients.

"We would encourage any patients who feel they have not been consulted with adequately to approach their GP surgery where the practice staff will be pleased to listen, provide additional information and offer advice."

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