Staff and patients find NHS centre is just what the doctor ordered

Outpatient: Outpatient sister Carol Mills and healthcare assistant Eileen Clark.
Outpatient: Outpatient sister Carol Mills and healthcare assistant Eileen Clark.

PATIENTS and staff are quickly settling into the new Morpeth NHS Centre.

The £18million facility opened last month to provide a range of healthcare services under one roof.

The centre incorporates services from the former Morpeth Cottage Hospital and GP surgeries, offering outpatient and diagnostic services, podiatry, physiotherapy, x-ray, speech and language therapy, community nursing, oral health and child health care.

And Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is keen to introduce even more services in the future.

Outpatient Sister Carol Mills said: “We’re delighted to be up and running from the new centre and the facilities for patients and staff are truly excellent.

“In the first few weeks we’ve received fantastic feedback from patients and they are all impressed with the centre, the services on offer and also the attitude and professionalism of staff.

“We’re very keen to bring more services to the centre and build on what we already provide and be able to prevent more people from having to travel out of the area for their appointment if it is appropriate and safe to do so.

“We will be working hard on this over the next few months as we continue to settle into our new home in Morpeth.”

Consultants and specialist nurses run outpatient clinics for a range of conditions and there are plans to introduce new sessions to help manage pain, as well as more appointments in general surgery.

The centre serves as the base for community services in the Morpeth area, which help people in their own homes.

Since 2011 Northumbria Healthcare has been responsible for managing community health services across Northumberland and North Tyneside, and has been working to streamline care for patients when they are discharged from hospital to be cared for in the community. Staff say the new arrangements at Morpeth help the transition.

Community Matron Jane Bendelow said: “It’s excellent that our community services are all together in the new NHS centre and it is a base for colleagues working in a range of departments who support people in the community and in their own homes.

“Being under one roof helps us all to better work together and improve partnership working with primary care colleagues.

“This helps us all to provide joined-up care for patients, resulting in more seamless care, and means that patients could, if they needed to, access more than one service on one visit to the centre.”

The centre houses two GP practices — Greystoke and Gas House Lane — and encourages closer working with Wellway Surgery.

GP David Ridley, of Greystoke, said: “We are very pleased with our new premises and are settling in well. The new building secures the long-term future of the practice and will enable us to give a more efficient and effective service to our patients for many more years to come.

“The feedback from our patients has been very good and although we will all miss the character of our old buildings, the advantages in the new rooms are obvious and patients really appreciate the new modern, purpose-built environment in which their healthcare is delivered.”

The new centre was given the go ahead following extensive public consultation.

Stroke rehabilitation and other inpatient services moved to a specialist unit at Wansbeck General Hospital in 2008 and the Whalton Unit, for specialist inpatient elderly care, was opened on the site of Morpeth Cottage Hospital in 2009.