West Heath Primary Care Centre

"We really feel proud of our new building. It means we can give patients more choice and better care than we could in our old surgery. Patients have been very complimentary about the centre – they much prefer coming here and they say it really brightens up the neighbourhood."

Dr Arora, Lead GP, West Heath Primary Care Centre

South Birmingham Primary Care Trust (PCT) had ambitious plans to improve the provision of primary care in the West Heath area of Birmingham. The existing GP surgery in West Heath was based in a converted house, which was cramped, inflexible and limiting the services the practice could offer.

BaS LIFT identified a suitable plot in the grounds of West Heath Hospital and within walking distance of the current surgery. Despite its limited size, the site was conveniently located for patients and staff, however the challenge would be to design a building that would complement the neighbouring hospital and still be easily accessible. The site was behind a brick boundary wall and a row of mature trees, which the local planning authority were keen to retain, however this would completely conceal the centre from view. The development team worked with the planners on an alternative solution, replacing parts of the wall with sections of open railings, allowing the health centre to be visible to patients. The design ensured original character features could be retained, including the wall’s brick pillars and terracotta capping stones.

The centre’s flexible spaces and variety of new services available have seen the GPs attract a growing list of patients. Service users are enjoying a better experience – from an environment that is light, airy and welcoming to the provision of car parking, which ensures a visit to the health centre is as stress-free as possible.

Flexibility for smaller schemes

The floor plan the developers were working with was extremely restrictive, therefore the main challenge was to maximise the usable internal space to accommodate a range of services but also offer the flexibility the clinicians required. Utilising the expertise of its healthcare planners and experienced design team, BaS LIFT worked with the PCT to develop a workable schedule of accommodation, locating any highly serviced clinical areas together. This created an efficient layout, minimising their distance from the plant room and avoiding the costly re-routing of building services infrastructure.

To ensure affordability, landmark architectural features are concentrated in prominent areas. The bright red entrance canopy contrasting with a feature wall of blue glazed brick makes a strong visual impact, ensuring the building is easily identifiable for patients but still remained cost-effective to build.