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New NHS Centre for Morpeth

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An £18 million project to construct a brand new health centre in Morpeth, Northumberland is currently underway.

The new health centre is being built to relocate existing services into a new and improved facility and will incorporate two GP practices – Greystoke and Gas House Lane – as well as a range of services hosted by Northumbria NHS Trust, including x-ray, podiatry, physiotherapy and dental services. As well as new premises for the two GP practices the centre will also provide an integrated working facility for the staff and patients of Morpeth’s third GP practice, Wellway.

Northumberland County Council Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, Councillor Ian Lindley, said:

“This is an exciting development in health services. The health centre will provide high-quality healthcare and the modern equipment will help GPs to do diagnostic testing in the surgery which will save people from having to travel.”

Work began on the project in February 2012. Prior to work taking place on the project, the site housed The Mount – a Northumberland County Council owned and operated care home which was demolished as part of the project.

Laing O’Rourke is the main contractor on the Morpeth NHS Centre project, whilst P+HS Architects is providing all architectural services on the site. The Strategic Health Authority (SHA) is providing funding for the project.

The three-storey centre is being constructed from precast concrete panels, using a specially devised Laing O’Rourke system. The external finish includes a mix of natural stone and glazed curtain walling and has been designed to blend in with the local area.

To date the structure has been erected, the roof has been installed and the first-fix and mechanical and electrical works have been completed. Second-fix works and internal fit-outs are currently scheduled to take place during the end of 2012, along with the installation of sanitary ware.

A small amount of landscaping work will also take place on the site, along with the installation of a 93-space staff and visitor car park.

One of the most advanced features of the new centre is the inclusion of an integrated cooling system which adapts to the weather conditions. During warmer weather vents within the building will cool the external mass of the structure, whilst the exposed concrete structure will retain heat during the colder months of the year. Additional environmentally friendly features of the centre include Photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof.

NHS South of Tyne and Wear Capital Projects Officer, Keith Hodson, said:

“This project is very important to us. The planning permission dates back to 2010 and for a while the project was put on hold, so everyone was keen to get it back up and running again. Now that we are nearing completion everyone is very keen to see the work completed, especially the tenants who are moving in.

“Although the construction of this new centre will see the relocation of existing services, the Northumbria Foundation Trust site that it replaces will remain open and will continue to operate only with a different range of services.

“The building programme was been hampered a little bit by the weather conditions we experienced during summer 2012, but generally speaking we are on programme and work is progressing well.”

Keith added:

“During the construction process there have been a range of public engagement events and these have received great feedback from the local community. The events have helped to keep interest in the project on a local level. Morpeth is a reasonably small place and most of the residents are patients of the two GP practices involved, so it is very important from a patient point of view that everything is catered for.”

One of the public engagement events held at the site was a topping out ceremony which celebrated the completion of the building structure.

Discussing the importance of the topping out ceremony, Laing O’Rourke Project Manager, Fred Smith, commented:

“Work on the new health centre is progressing well and the landmark celebration recognised the success so far. The occasion gave local residents and staff the opportunity to see how the health centre has materialised; giving them an insight into the design of what will essentially be their health centre for years to come.”

The Morpeth NHS Centre project is currently scheduled for completion in February 2013.

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