An artist’s impression of the proposed St James Medical Centre.

Plans for a £5m purpose-built doctors’ surgery and medical centre have taken a major step forward, it was announced this afternoon (Wednesday).

St James Medical Practice in King’s Lynn hopes to move from its home of 50 years in County Court Road across town to a new, modern centre off Edward Benefer Way, towards South Wootton.

A planning application has now been submitted to West Norfolk Council and, if approved, building work could start later this year and be completed by next November.

Doctors are “delighted at what benefits the surgery and health care and wellbeing hub” would bring, a spokesman said.

The new surgery could boast more consulting rooms, a new and expanded range of clinical services, free parking for more than 90 vehicles, state-of-the-art endoscopy and other examination facilities, expanded training provision to help attract and retain the staff and a better environment for staff and patients, the spokesman said.

The planning application follows consultations with patients, staff, councillors and other interested parties.

Practice manager Kathy Foley said: “Our current surgery is not fit for purpose due to its restricted size and layout. There have been issues with drainage and it is draughty and damp.

“It is not suitable for our present and future needs. We are striving to provide the best possible care for our patients, and we need a modern fit-for-purpose building where our staff can train and work and offer a new and expanded range of clinical services. 

“Experience shows us people who train and qualify in Norfolk are more likely to remain.”

The practice, which has given thousands of Covid vaccinations in recent months, has the backing of its Patient Participation Group, whose chairman Ian Gutteridge said: “Members understand the shortcomings of the present building and recognise the need for a high-quality facility to expand primary care services.

 “It will bring benefits in terms of the breadth of services in one convenient, modern location.”

He said the practice, which serves 17,000 patients, was aware some help would be needed for some patients to get to the proposed new surgery, at the South Wootton end of the northern bypass. 

And that efforts would be made to help with talks involving potential additional transport providers being made.

“This development is long overdue and we support the practice team and its professional advisers who are making this happen,” he said.

The practice said it had looked at 16 other potential sites nearer to Lynn town centre but all were “unsuitable”.