TWO of Tavistock's doctors' surgeries are joining forces to create a brand new £2.8-million health centre, serving the town and surrounding areas.

The new centre, to be known as Tavyside, will replace the Stannary and Wharfside surgeries and will be built in the grounds of Stannary Surgery at Abbey Rise.

Tavistock's third practice Abbey Surgery in Plymouth Road will remain the same.

In the planning and development stages for three years, work has now started on the three-storey building designed by local architect Steve Whettem and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The old Stannary Surgery will then be demolished to create a larger car park for patients and visitors.

Additional services will be provided, including a new home for Tavistock Children's Centre and a base for the health visitor and midwifery teams.

There will be larger GP consultation rooms and more treatment rooms for other healthcare services such as physiotherapy, podiatry, counselling, sports medicine and a travel clinic among others.

A patient survey was carried out and as a result a buggy park will be provided in the entrance, a children's soft play area, special seating for those with mobility problems and disability ramps and lifts.

All seven of the existing GP partners and all staff from other surgeries will work together at the new health centre, with patients being able to see their current GP or a GP of their choice.

The project is being funded independently by the partners in conjunction with a loan from Lloyds TSB Commercial.

Dr Graham Johnson from Stannary, who is co-ordinating the build, said the two surgeries were initially one in the 1980s but there was a parting of ways between the partners of the time. With the creation of Tavyside, doctors felt they were restoring the balance.

He said: 'In the past few years both practices have been desperately short of space. Tavyside Health Centre will enable us to offer more to patients — in terms of space, comfort and a greater range of services for all.

'But although we shall be in a big new building with many extra facilities, we are keen to ensure the same levels of personal and professional care will continue for all our existing and any new patients.'

Dr Mark Eggleton from Wharfside said: 'We are very excited at the prospect of joining forces with Stannary Surgery and creating a new health centre, which will be a fantastic facility for the people of Tavistock, especially with so much expertise under one roof.

'Feedback from many of our patients has been excellent and we thank them for their support.'

All 8,000 patients registered with the surgeries will receive a personal letter and further information on the new centre, the facilities it will have to offer and what this will mean to them.

Display boards will also be put up in waiting rooms showing plans and projected timings.

Partners will be looking to sell or long let the Wharfside surgery building at the end of the year when the centre is complete.