Shropshire Star

Village's 'pioneering' new health and wellbeing centre takes important step forward

Plans to create a brand-new health and wellbeing centre at the Severn Centre in Highley have taken an important step forward, say health bosses.

Celebrations at Highley Severn Centre

The development, which will see the Severn Centre reconfigured to accommodate Highley Medical Centre and additional health and care services, has received the green light.

NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and the Halo Leisure Trust Board, the social enterprise and registered charity that runs the Severn Centre, have both approved retrofit work to begin in early 2024.

The brand-new Highley Health and Wellbeing Centre will not only maintain and expand essential GP services in the area but will also include a broader range of health and care services provided by the local primary care network, complementing the activities on offer at the Severn Centre.

Bridgnorth Medical Practice took over GP services in July 2023 after provision stopped in Highley. It has been operating from a temporary building on the Severn Centre car park while a long-term solution was secured.

The change came when Highley Medical Practice gave notice of plans to end the contract to manage the service last year.

Funding for the new medical centre has been received from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), Halo Leisure and NHS England, with direction for the project provided by an equal partnership approach.

Key partners include Shropshire Council, Highley Parish Council, Bridgnorth Medical Practice, the South-East Shropshire Primary Care Network (PCN), Halo Leisure (the Severn Centre) and NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.

The project has benefitted from support across all levels of government and has been championed by Councillor Cecilia Motley, cabinet member for health at Shropshire Council, and Ludlow MP Philip Dunne.

Mr Dunne, whose constituency includes Highley, said: “I have been proud to play my part in helping drive this project to create real change and improvement in meeting the health needs of the local community.

“All the partners in this project came together effectively with residents in Highley and the surrounding area. Everyone has worked hard to understand their health needs and adapt approaches accordingly.

"It has been a great example of how all those involved in delivering health and wellbeing services across tiers of local and national bodies can work together to achieve such a transformative outcome for current and future generations.”

Dr Jessica Harvey, South-East Shropshire PCN clinical director, added: “Improving GP access and patient experience is a national and local priority, and the direction of travel for general practice is to become more integrated with wider community services, local authorities, and the voluntary and community sector.

“The Highley Health and Wellbeing Centre is a pioneering example of this, and I am delighted to see steps being taken towards its development.”

Councillor Cecilia Motley, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for adult social care, public health, and communities said: “I am so pleased to see the Shropshire Plan coming to life with a focus on health and wellbeing. This partnership approach is directly working to improve services for our rural communities.

“Our Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) told us that people in Highley are vulnerable to the cost of living crisis and access to services. Therefore, bringing these vital services closer to where people live is of utmost importance for the wellbeing of our communities.

"By working together, we can share resources and truly start to integrate, making best use of our workforce and assets.”

Tom Quinn, chair of Highley Parish Council, said: “Highley Parish Council is delighted to have been able to assist this fantastic project to ensure the health provision within the village is what our parishioners deserve.”