Marston Pharmacy – part of the Frosts Pharmacy Group – has expanded its Old Marston Road premises to make room for a GP surgery that would have been “completely lost” from the local area, Stuart Gale, the group's owner and chief pharmacist told C+D this morning (November 13).
The GP surgery was set to relocate after Marston Medical Centre closed down in the summer, Mr Gale explained.
After a failed attempt to move the practice to the third floor of a community centre, Mr Gale feared that the surgery would have to leave the area and patients would “completely lose” access to local healthcare.
Mr Gale has two pharmacies in the local area – including one located in “the same row of shops” as the medical centre – which would also have been “hit quite badly” by the surgery's move, he added.
“It would have been a complete catastrophe for the local area,” he stressed.
After he made the offer, the practice managers “jumped at the chance” to house three GP consultation rooms and a waiting area in Marston Pharmacy, Mr Gale added.
After a “superhuman effort from all involved” to completely refit the pharmacy over a five-week period, the premises reopened under the name Hedena Medical Centre at Marston Pharmacy last week (November 9).
The expanded premises – which also houses a walk-in travel clinic – has capacity to provide GP services to “100 patients a day” and is already encouraging greater collaboration between doctors, nurses and the pharmacy team, Mr Gale said.
“We are already starting to see better communication, because we share a staffroom,” he said. “[The practice staff] are able to bring prescriptions across for patients that have requested them, and [the pharmacy team] is able to help them with their patients,” he added.
Mr Gale admits that the situation “is not ideal”, as the practice is still operating three consultation rooms in a temporary unit in the John Radcliffe Hospital carpark – a 20-minute walk away – but “we’re just trying to keep something in the community”, he said.
“Everyone wants nice, big, purpose-built surgeries with lots of capacity, space and parking, but sometimes – especially in Oxford – it is just not possible.”
Mr Gale hopes Hedena Medical Centre becomes an “indispensable” part of the community's health services.