BUILDING work has begun on a new £2m health centre in east Durham.

The centre will a much-needed medical facility for the Wheatley Hill area, creating a new base for GPs and associated medical services.

Five GPs will be based in the surgery side of the building, alongside an on-site pharmacy, commercial space for an optician or dentist, and facilities for visiting occupational therapists and health nurses.

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NHS England will also be using space in the new health centre to provide more specialised treatments at a local level.

After completion of the new health centre - with the support of a seven-figure loan from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking - the existing Wheatley Hill practice on Thornley Road will be removed to make way for additional car parking space for patients.

GP surgery project manager Chloe Taylor said: “It has taken years of careful planning and hard work to get this project started, so we’re delighted that construction has started, putting a completion date in sight.

“We’re aiming to provide a one-stop-shop for patients in the new practice, offering diagnosis and treatment in the same building, as well as a range of additional NHS treatments that would normally only be available in hospitals – helping to reduce waiting list times.

“The support from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking has been essential in getting this project off the ground, and the knowledge and support from our healthcare banking consultant has been invaluable in the planning stages.”

Malcolm Swan, senior healthcare banking consultant for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The new Wheatley Hill health centre will be an enormous asset to the surrounding area for years to come, and one which was certainly needed due to the age of the existing practice building.”