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MiP Award news – mixing art and design

18 August 2008

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The Upton Surgery provides services for 10,500 patients in the market town of Upton upon Severn and 48 surrounding villages and hamlets.

The previous doctor’s surgery site was founded in 1876 and the site was rebuilt in 1967, but after having had 10 extensions it was obvious that the surgery was inadequate in size and parking for general practice in the 21st century.

Redevelopment was the only option.

The road to this development began in 1999 and planning took place between doctors, dentists, community nursing and therapy staff, social services and other providers to develop a holistic service to the Upton Surgery patients under one roof.

The surgery was finally opened on Tunnel Hill, Upton upon Severn in October 2007, and since this time the practice has continued to develop and pilot services for multidisciplinary care in the community. The new buildings are made of modern materials but in order not to impinge unduly on the surrounding rural landscape adopt rural buildings themes with many internal and external features such as cladding particularly found in agricultural buildings such as barns.

Throughout the internal spaces use of wood is a predominant feature with close attention to the curved design of the reception desk in English light oak.

However, it was not just the architectural design of Upton Surgery that attracted our judges to this project. The surgery has also included many artworks into the premises to improve the “quality” of the practice environment with the intention of reducing stress levels and also improving the nature of the interaction with patients. Light was deemed to be important element of quality followed by plants, photography and art.

The arts project at Upton Surgery had four main objectives:

  • To create a less stressful environment for patients and staff and all users of the building.
  • To bring a collection of modern art to a rural healthcare setting.
  • To enrich the daily working environment for staff and patients by creating better working and waiting conditions.
  • To improve clinical and therapeutic outcomes.

The GP partners and practice manager worked hard on the interior design to create an environment which was did not have a sterile “clinical” feel that can be daunting to patients. Plants and fabrics were carefully chosen with a variety of seating options to create a comfortable feel.

To take the project a stage further they decided to introduce several interesting artistic features. The partners commissioned art to enhance the architecture, the surrounding town and country and to bring modern art to the market town of Upton upon Severn in a space where large numbers of the public of all ages come to use the surgery services.

In the waiting room there are two spectacular stained glass window panels featuring local scenes. Designed by artists Ben and Noel Sinclair and paid for by donations from patients and the GP partners the effect is magnificent with the sun streaming through in the morning into the waiting area and reflecting against the walls and carpets. 

The visual arts within healthcare play an important role in improving clinical outcomes and an individual’s sense of wellbeing and the GP partners were committed to add stylish visual and comfortable features for patients adding a new dimension to the surgery environment.

There are also 10 commissions from the “Paintings in Hospitals” charity scheme on display including four large colourful canvases by Sylvia Guirey, an oil painting by Fred Yates and two colourful prints by Terry Frost as well as other mood enhancing commissions.

The loan scheme helps many millions of people in healthcare settings each year by bringing colour, interest and warmth into the healthcare environment and relief to those in need. Upton Surgery is one of very few GP practices to participate and the collection brings a combination of modern and traditional art which hopefully brings welcome relief from anxiety and stress for those receiving care and those who work in the surgery.

The surgery also responds to local artistic interests having a permanent display facility for local art groups.

The surgery is now more than a purpose-built, architecturally designed modern surgery. Its design and layout has been contributed to by the users and this continued through the build with day-to-day input from the practice manager working with the project team. The surgery has an added local distinctiveness with a sense of place and community, and the whole team is proud of the artistic displays and the variety of colours, light and images with a level of detail and texture to support human emotions and achieve a unique environment.

Management in Practice Awards 2008