THE team at a Forest GP surgery that was threatened with closure last year is striving to make it the go-to health centre for the local community.

Hundreds of patients at Drybrook Surgery made a case for it to be saved when NHS Gloucestershire announced that it was considering options for its future, including its permanent closure, in April last year.

Thankfully, new partners stepped in to deliver services on a short term basis, before signing a long term contract to secure its future in December.

The partners, Dr Anna Raymond, Nurse Practitioner Katie Dyer and Lead Nurse Nichola Winstanley, are on familiar ground having practiced locally for many years.

Since taking the reigns they’ve worked hard to bring in an “amazing” new team of staff and implement services that better meet the requirements of patients.

They say that those improvements will continue into the new year as they strive to transform the practice into a community health hub and “the best surgery in the area”.

Nichola said: “We want people to know that since we came in in June we’ve been doing things differently here, we’re improving things.

“We’re listening to our practice population and are changing things for the better.”

The practice has already started delivering new services, including a winter respiratory hub offering urgent care.

They also now have a dietician, podiatry, and contracts have been signed for physiotherapy, while plans for a counselling service are in the pipeline.

They’ve also extended the surgery’s opening hours, offering access to services on Saturdays and in the evenings.

Practice manager Denise says since the partners took over, patients describing the services as ‘very good’ in a monthly survey have been “by far in the majority”, and the team say they’ve received lots of positive comments from patients.

“Somebody said to me yesterday, ‘all of your staff are lovely, they’re so friendly’ - that wasn’t happening before”, Nichola said.

“The service from the front door, to coming through to the medical team to leaving, everyone is friendlier and happier. It’s a much better environment.

“We couldn’t do it without the team who go above and beyond to help us and help our patients.”

The partners have also looked to involve the local community in decision making through a Patient Participation Group, which provides feedback to the partners about what the community needs, and a Friends group, which looks after an equipment fund for the surgery.

The partners hope to use monies from the equipment fund to give the building “a facelift” in the near future.

The centre also has a meeting space available for community groups to use, which the partners hope will help tackle loneliness and isolation in the area.

The surgery is also the first in Gloucestershire to have nurse partners, with practices traditionally being run solely by GPs.

Katie said: “That’s relatively new and I think people were sceptical at the start, but it’s working well and I think it’s going to be the way forward for some surgeries.”

The partners now hope that the improvements made will lead to around 600 patients who left the practice following news of the potential closure coming back.

Nichola said: “We want to support the community and keep going long term, but part of the support we need is for some of our patients who left to come back, so they can see the improvements we’ve made and hopefully stay with us.”

For information about the services the surgery offers, or to get in touch about using the meeting space, go to