Dereham surgery celebrates �250,000 extension

Thousands of patients are set to benefit from a �250,000 extension to a GP practice in Dereham.

After months of building work, the Theatre Royal Surgery unveiled its new consulting and admin rooms at an official opening today (Tuesday).

The light and airy extension replaces a portable room which has been used to treat many of the surgery's 8,000 patients over the last five years.

A two-storey extension was previously added in the 1990s, but the practice has continued to grow with rapidly increasing staff and patient numbers.

'For us, it's fantastic,' Partner Dr Marinus Rosbergen said: 'It gives us the opportunity to look for other services we can offer patients that we were not able to before because we had no space.

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'It's going to be beneficial to patients in the long-run. Before, I think we were one of the most cramped surgeries in Norfolk.'

Two-thirds of the building project, which started in November last year, was funded by NHS Norfolk and the rest of the cost was met by the partners.

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Local fund-raiser Frieda Abell, a leading campaigner in the fight to save Dereham Hospital from closure in 2006, cut the ribbon before staff and patients celebrated with live jazz music and nibbles.

Mrs Abell's son, Chris, was a partner at the Theatre Street surgery for around 20 years before he moved to Scotland five years ago.

'I'm very privileged to be here today and I consider it a great honour to open this lovely extension,' she said in her speech. 'I was told it was a state-of-the-art extension and having had a look around, I can see that's what it is.

'A lot of hard work is done in this surgery and I hope the extension makes life a little bit easier for the people who work here.'

The dedicated fundraiser, an active member of the Friends of Dereham Hospital for more than 20 years, was presented with a bouquet after cutting the ribbon.

'I have been attending the surgery for more than 30 years and the conditions have been cramped,' she added.

Dr Rosbergen will take on the role of senior partner when Dr William Cartledge leaves the practice in the autumn.

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