THIs time last year all those involved with Coldingham Surgery were fighting hard against plans from a Rochdale-based firm to bring a new pharmacy into the village.
That application was later withdrawn which allowed Eyemouth Medical Practice to push on with renovations of the Edinburgh Road facility and last Tuesday the final outcome was officially unveiled.
And the patients who objected so strongly to last year’s application, which if successful would have prevented medicines being dispensed from Coldingham Surgery, and could have had a knock on effect for outreach surgeries in Cockburnspath, packed into the building to show their support for the six medical partners and everyone involved with the refurbishment.
Welcoming guests, which also included MSP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, John Lamont and Director of NHS Borders, Ross Cameron, to the grand opening, Doctor Alan Mason said he was thrilled to see a new lease of life breathed into the surgery which has given the building a larger waiting area for patients, an extra consultant room and a larger dispensary.
He paid tribute to local architects and builders for “doing a great job and getting things built on time despite one of the worst winters in years,” and to Eyemouth Health Practice Manager, Gitte Blackley for “holding it all together.”
Gitte too said she was really pleased with the newly refurbished and decorated surgery, which has been open to patients for just over a month, as were Doctors Ruth Booth and Kirsty Robinson who said they welcomed the extra room and the more spacious layout of the surgery.
Kirsty added: “We’re really pleased with how it’s turned out and the feedback we’ve had from patients so far suggests they are too. It’s a real sign of our commitment to them and hopefully our improved facilities will be a real benefit to residents.
“We were obviously relieved when the application for the pharamacy was withdrawn last year but there is a constant threat that something like that may come along; that’s why the new improved dispensing unit is so important to us. And the fact that we’ve now got two consultant rooms, means we can have nurses here for special practices and can hopefully develop the surgery into a training practice.”
NHS Borders’ Director, Ross Cameron admitted that he hadn’t visited Coldingham Surgery for a number of years but was very impressed with the building which he said emphasised NHS Borders’ commitment to the community.
He commented: “The investment in the surgery shows that primary care services are just as important as they ever have been.
“It also reflects the importance of providing a good quality service to Coldingham and the surrounding area.
“We can’t put a facility like this in every single village across the Borders and I know the local community here are very grateful for the facilities that are provided.”
The job of cutting the ribbon was bestowed on long-time Coldingham GP Michael Fenty. who is now retired, and went on to write a successful play which packed out Coldingham Hall last year.
Michael gave those assembled a potted history of the surgery from its origins in 1907 under the leadership of Doctor Calder, from the days when it made a home for itself in a house in the village and patients would wait in a living room, to the days when, due to its size, it was mistaken for a public toilet!
He said the current surgery with all its renovations was “a tribute to everyone’s hard work.”