• Clock Tower Surgery takes residence in exciting new wellbeing hub

    A UNIQUE Exeter GP practice is set for an exciting future after relocating to purpose-built new premises in the city.

    For the past 17 years, the Clock Tower Surgery, which caters exclusively for the homeless and vulnerably housed, has been located in converted offices, just yards from the Queen Street landmark after which it is named.

    In that time, the Clock Tower has been widely praised for the service it has provided to users – many of whom have addictions and / or complex mental health issues. However, with the move to new premises within Exeter’s CoLab – a multi-agency wellbeing hub at Wat Tyler House in King William Street – surgery bosses believe it will be easier for them to help some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

    “We’re delighted to have relocated to purpose-built premises at the CoLab,” enthused practice manager Rachael Hallam. “We’ve learned a lot in our time in New North Road and we’ve used that knowledge to ensure our new premises are far better equipped to deal with some of the most socially excluded people in the local community and achieve better outcomes for them."

    In addition, surgery users also stand to benefit from the relocation to a wellbeing hub which brings together a range of services capable of offering help and support, including mental health workers, probation staff and addiction treatment workers; as well as hosting more generic services such as training and adult education, a volunteer centre, and an enterprise zone for social enterprise start-ups.

    “It’s fantastic that we will be able to work much more closely with the housing sector, especially the Assertive Homeless Outreach Team [for rough sleepers] who also have a presence in the hub,” enthused Dr Phillipa Smithson, one of two GPs based at the Clock Tower. “They will be able to talk to us about any rough sleepers they are concerned about and, likewise, we will also be able to refer people to them.”

    “The layout of the new building is all about creating an environment where professionals can naturally collaborate, to remove some of the cracks between services where people – especially vulnerable people – can so easily fall,” explained Simon Bowkett, the chief executive of Exeter Council for Voluntary Services, which has spearheaded the initiative. “With that in mind, we’re delighted that the Clock Tower Surgery has come on board.”

    The most recent CQC report on the Clock Tower, which is operated by Access Health Care – a subsidiary of the county’s out-of-hours provider Devon Doctors – rated it as good in all areas and commended staff for their commitment to providing ‘a compassionate and supportive service for patients’.

    “Patients received prompt, co-ordinated care across the GP and nursing team at the practice,” reported the CQC.

    “Patient survey feedback showed high levels of satisfaction and the number of registered patients was increasing. A common theme was that the staff were compassionate and supportive in promoting the health and wellbeing of patients.”

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