A SPECIAL ceremony has been held to mark the beginning of construction work to build a new medical practice in Willington.
The village’s surgery will relocate from its current site in Repton Road to the new purpose-built facility, behind Saxon Grove, later this year.
Dr Kyran Farrell, a partner at the practice for 25 years, told the Mail: “The ceremony was a rite of passage to say the project has started and the planning stage is now over.
“It took us a long time to find a site and we are very grateful to Willington Parish Council and South Derbyshire District Council.
“At last we have got to a point where complex land and legal negotiations have finished and we can get on with the project.”
The surgery needed to move because its current location was too small.
Dr Farrell said the new building, expected to open in November if there are no delays, would be three times larger than the current practice and include a pharmacy.
South Derbyshire MP Heather Wheeler was present at yesterday’s sod-cutting ceremony.
Dr Farrell said: “This new centre will future-proof healthcare for Willington, Repton, Findern and surrounding villages for the next 20 years because it gives us modern, compliant premises.
“It will even give us the chance to expand further in the future.”
The Mail reported in December 2010 how the NHS had purchased the area of land behind Saxon Grove to use as the site for the new surgery.
Health officials had been looking for land for a new surgery for months and had previously suggested building the new facility on the Twyford Road playing field, although this plan was abandoned after some villagers protested and applied for the area to be given protected village green status.
Dr Farrell said: “I have been based in Willington for 25 years and the nature of the job has changed.
“GPs’ practices now do a lot of preventative and illness management work that would previously have been done in a hospital or elsewhere.
“The trend is for this to continue as the health service adjusts to its new future.”
Dr Farrell also moved to dispel claims that the site of the new surgery was prone to flooding. He said careful checks had been carried out ahead of the building work and that the land had not been affected by floods that struck other areas late last year.
As well as South Derbyshire’s MP, the sod-cutting ceremony was attended by staff from the centre, members of its patient participation group and the practice’s oldest registered patient, Susie Dixon.
Mrs Wheeler said: “The sod-cutting ceremony was a really happy event.
“People in Willington have tried for so long to come to the happy compromise of this site and it was so good to be able to go down there to see the building coming out of the earth.
“It will mean so much to people that all these extra facilities are arriving in the village.
“The new surgery will make a material difference for everybody in Willington and surrounding villages.
“You can now see the footprints of the building.”