There has been a doctor’s surgery in Ottery St Mary since Victorian times.
Early Twentieth Century
In 1900 the new century saw three independent general practitioners caring for the people of Ottery St Mary. They were Drs Mortimer Reynolds, Bartlett and Fielding. Drs Johnson and Ponton followed these doctors.
Dr Ponton lived and practised at Ridgeway House. He was called up for Military Service in 1917 and served in both France and Italy before returning to continue in practice in Ottery St Mary until 1923 when he sold both his house and practice to Ralph Traill.
Dr Johnson lived in Raleigh House on Mill Street. In 1922 he sold both the house and practice to Dr Frank Sidebotham. Dr Frank Sidebotham and his brother in-law Ralph Traill invited a friend who had also trained with them at Guys hospital in London Dr Esmond "Teddy" Micklem to join them in Ottery St Mary's first group practice.
Through the friendship the doctors functioned as a group for organisational purposes although each doctor still had his own consulting room and dispensary at his own home. From 1926 until 1935 Dr Frank Sidebotham however conducted a surgery from part of a railway carriage parked in the grounds of the gasworks between the river bridge and the station!
In 1949 Dr Jimmy Sidebotham joined the practice and Dr Neill Micklem followed him in 1954 due to the death of Dr Frank Sidebotham. This group of General practitioners were pioneering and decided to build a group general practice in a corner of Ralph Traill's garden on what is now 74 Sandhill Street. This groundbreaking surgery included a dental surgery.
The 1960's saw a new generation of partners join the practice: Dr Graham Ward in 1963, Dr Jeremy Bradshaw-Smith in 1964 and Dr John Pegg in 1969. The dental surgeons gave up their part of the premises in 1964 and so the County Council bought them out and extended the premises to accommodate the district nurses and midwife. A waiting room was also added.
In 1970 the practice continued with its pioneering outlook led by Dr Bradshaw-Smith and developed a computerised system for medical notes in association with the Institute of Biometry and Community Medicine in Exeter. Together with Mount Pleasant Health Centre in Exeter the Ottery St Mary Practice was one of the first UK practices to be fully computerised.
Dr John Ackroyd joined the partnership in 1974 and Dr Tim Cox joined the partnership in 1980.
By 1982 the local population had grown from 6,500 in 1963 to 10,000 and with 5 partners the Sandhill Surgery was too small to house the expanding partnership and primary health care team. The decision was made by the partnership to finance and build a new surgery in the present site on Canaan Way. Three extensions have been made to the original building between 1982 and the present day to provide for the expansion in population served by the partnership as well as the expansion to the present nine partners and one retainer now providing medical services to Ottery St Mary and the surrounding villages and hamlets.
Dr Jean Brown was the first woman to join the partnership in 1984 and Dr Chris Dilley became a partner in 1989. Drs Ward, Bradshaw-Smith and Pegg retired over 1994 and 1995 and three new partners joined: Drs Simon Kerr and Katherine Gurney in 1994 and Dr Matthew King in 1995. Due to further population expansion Dr Nigel De Sousa joined as an additional partner in 1997.
The flood of 1997 saw the partners (one in a wetsuit) trying to protect the surgery in The Land of Canaan from the rising waters. Following this floodgates were added to the front entrance.
In 2002 Dr Megan James jointed the practice as a GP Retainer (later to become an Associate in 2007). In 2003 Dr Gurney reduced to half time after the birth of her daughter and so Dr Emma Stuart joined in 2004 as a half time partner to job share with Dr Gurney. In 2006 Dr Alex Degan joined as the very first Associate GP eventually leaving to join the Witheridge Practice as a Partner in 2008. In 2008 Dr Alex Long (previously a GP Registrar at the practice) became a GP Associate. Also during 2008 the practice was joined by Dr Andrea Siggers who is currently on the GP Retainer scheme. In April 2009 Dr Alex Long accepted an invitation to join the partnership, taking over from Dr Ackroyd on his retirement.
2010 to 2013
During 2010 Dr Samantha Cole and Dr Lisa Gibbons joined the partnership. After 30 years in general practice in Ottery St Mary, Dr Tim Cox reduced his full time committment and stepped down as Senior Partner, handing the baton to Dr Chris Dilley.
After 21 years in the role of Practice Manager, Anne Maher retired from her role and took up a new part time position as Business Development/Project Manager. Sue Stokes became Practice Manager on 1st June 2010. Anne retired in August 2012.
In 2011 we expanded our premises at Whimple so that we could offer more GP appointments and increase our Practice Nurse services to those patients living in Whimple and the surrounding villages.
Also during 2012 Dr Jean Brown retired from the practice and Dr Tom Waterfall joined the Partnership to look after Dr Brown's patients. Sadly Dr Waterfall left the practice in November 2012. Dr Stuart went up to full time hours and we appointed to new GPs, Dr Michelle Bailey and Dr Sarah Russell.
In 2013 Dr Cox retired from the partnership. Dr Long left us and Dr Gibbons increased her hours to full time. This was also the year that CCGs replaced Primary Care Trusts. The North Eastern and Western (NEW) Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) became responsible for commissioning £1.1bn of healthcare services in the Devon area.
Branch surgeries have been held in surrounding villages to cater for patients unable to get to Ottery St Mary due to transport difficulties. The surgery in Newton Poppleford is run in premises rented from the parish council. The Whimple Surgery was held for 33 years in the house on Mrs Frances Pratt however in 2001 the partnership built a dedicated surgery called the Sandford Surgery. The Feniton Surgery ran for many years but in now discontinued.