HISTORY OF THE PRACTICE
A surgery at Pound Close, Oldbury was built in 1969 for Doctors Garratt, Conochie and Carter, amalgamating the two previous surgeries from Joinings Bank, Langley and Harborne Road, Warley. A branch surgery opened in Merrivale Road, Hurst Green to cover the newly built estate there.
In 1971 Dr Garratt retired and Dr Bathija joined the practice, followed by Dr Mewar in 1978 and Dr Tyler in 1980. In 1982 Dr Nutbeam joined the rapidly expanding practice.
In 1985 the surgery premises at Pound Close were extended to allow District Nurses and Health Visitors to work from the same premises. The Merrivale Road Surgery was closed due to falling demand for a branch surgery there.
Drs Conochie and Carter retired in 1986 and Dr Binks joined the practice as a partner. Dr Arora and Dr Johnson worked part time in the practice for two years before leaving to take up full time posts in general practice elsewhere. Their vacancies were filled by Dr Collier joining in 1988.
Over the years changes in the National Health Service, including the increasing importance of preventive medicine, the expansion of the role of the general practice team, as well as an increase in patient expectations led to a rapid increase in the patient services we offer and an increase in the staff employed by the surgery. In short we outgrew the practice premises! We also wished to maintain our role in the training and education of future GPs and that required more space.
Between 1998 and 2004 we suffered a lot of frustrations in our attempt to re-locate the surgery and build a purpose built medical centre. Our plans to build a large surgery to replace Pound Close premises and also Brandhall Clinic on the Queensway were thwarted in November 2001 when Sandwell Council rejected our planning application.
This was a major disappointment to us as our lack of space had been compounded when we agreed to care for patients from Brandhall Clinic, following the resignation of their doctor. This was a single-handed practice and no doctor had applied to replace him. Initially we tried to run Brandhall as a branch surgery pending our move to new premises, but sadly due to unexpected vandalism and computer theft this proved impractical and the clinic closed in October 1999.
Incorporating Brandhall Clinic patients with the existing Pound Close list enabled us to appoint Dr Gahle as a new partner in August 1999.
Dr Bathija and Dr Mewar both retired in 2001 and Dr Jukes and Dr Klair joined us. Dr Klair moved after a short time to his home town of Walsall to open another practice and he was replaced by Dr Desai who had done her GP training with us.
In 2003 we finally had planning permission granted for our present premises on the site of the old Foley House block of flats. We opened here at the end of March 2004. The new premises had to be re-named as we no longer resided on Pound Close. “Warley Medical Centre” was chosen to represent our catchment area. The building was named “Ambrose House” after Ambrose Foley. He originally owned the farmland on which the building is built. In the 18th century his home, Monkton House, stood where the Kings Highway pub stands on the Hagley Road (now a supermarket).
He was benefactor to the local community founding the local Sunday School, but with the demolition of the tower block, Foley House, his contribution to this area was no longer commemorated. We felt his generosity and a little piece of local history should be remembered and so “Ambrose House” was chosen for our new surgery. In addition, when asked by the council for a suitable name for the close we asked if this could be named after Mr Foley as well.
In 2006 on completion of his training with us as a GP, Dr Matthew Read joined us for a year as a salaried assistant. This allowed Dr Collier to reduce her hours and become part-time. Dr Read was followed in the same role by Dr Amir Hussain who also trained with us as a GP Registrar.
In 2006/07 the practice became more involved with doctor education taking newly registered doctors for experience in general practice four months at a time. These “foundation year 2 doctors” are having four months experience of various specialities before deciding on their final medical career path. At the same time we continue to train doctors who are undertaking specialist training to be GPs.
We also took on a role for the Primary Care Trust at Rowley Regis Hospital in 2008-10 in caring for step-up and step-down patients who required extra attention in a hospital setting for a short time. The pilot was enjoyable and successful, but funding was withdrawn and the pilot stopped in Spring 2010.
Dr Hussain joined us as a full-time partner and at the same time Dr Binks, Dr Desai and Dr Tyler reduced their working hours. Sadly Dr Tyler had to do this due to ill health and subsequently retired in April 2011.
Dr Binks retired in December 2010. Both will be much missed as long serving GP partners.
We continue to employ 3 practice nurses and 1 healthcare assistant who have proved invaluable in helping us with monitoring patient therapies. In addition, in 2010 we have employed a nurse practitioner for the first time, Frances Houghton, who is very experienced. She helps us by running a surgery for patients with minor illnesses, routine medication reviews for chronic illnesses.
At present we do not know what the future holds for general practice with the proposed changes in the NHS. Dr Gahle is busy fulfilling an important administrative role for us with GP commissioning. We continue to have a commitment to training young doctors and future GP’s. In 2010 we opened a 4 consulting room extension to give the training doctors their own rooms.
We are proud of our practice team who are committed to providing good quality primary care to our local community.
Dr Collier retired at the end of December 2013 and will be greatly missed by the patients and staff.