Practice History

At the turn of the century, the practice was run by Dr W Evans at Abbey House, Goose Street. He was succeeded by his son, Tyrrel, in 1934 who was lost at sea. The practice was continued by Dr Duncan, a retired naval man. After the war in 1946, Dr Robert Fleming bought the practice, and continued under the NHS from 1948.

After fifteen years as a single-handed practitioner Dr Fleming felt the need for help, and Dr John Corcoran joined him in 1961. As there was not quite enough work for two partners, Dr Corcoran augmented the income by working in anaesthetics in local hospitals. A year later, Dr Vaisey of the Freshford practice had a fatal road accident and, as a result, Freshford merged with Beckington. Surgery sessions continued in both villages and at Dr Fleming’s house in Norton St Philip. Patient numbers continued to increase, and in 1964 Dr Edith Napthine was appointed in a part-time capacity at Beckington. By 1971, with a further increase in the workload and Dr Napthine leaving, Dr Short was appointed. Two years later Dr Fleming retired and was replaced by Dr Heber.

At this time the lease at Abbey House was not renewed, and the practice was relocated to Enderby Hall. The new surgery was purchased under the Cost Rent scheme and was substantially altered three years later by the same arrangement. With the retirement of Dr Fleming, the Norton St Philip surgery continued, at first in a wing of the Rectory and later in the village hall, reducing the attendance to a once a week visit. Prior to the arrival of Dr Heber, Dr Corcoran ran the Freshford end of the practice on his own, firstly from Dr Vaisey’s old home and then from Younghusband House. These premises had never been ideal and the practice had always been on the lookout for more satisfactory premises. In 1985 the partnership prepared plans for a new development on a green field site, but unfortunately the vendor died before completion and the partnership was unable to proceed. With the arrival of Dr Heber the surgeries at Freshford each weekday were shared between him and Dr Corcoran with all three partners sharing the work at Beckington. A weekly branch surgery at Rode was introduced at first in the home of Mrs Wilkins and after that in the village hall.

In 1968 the surgery became a training practice, teaching medical graduates prior to entry into General Practice. Seven doctors spent a year each in this capacity over the next decade.

Frome expanded rapidly in the 1960s and in 1981 the Health Authority asked the partners to consider opening a surgery in the town to take on some of the load and the Fromefield branch was opened. Dr Kathy Gibbs, a previous trainee with the practice, joined the partnership after the premises had been developed using the Cost Rent scheme. When Dr Gibbs left the practice in 1986, she was succeeded by Dr Judith Brooks who had also been a trainee with the practice. Following the resignation of Dr Short the practice lost its training status, and Dr Philip Archer was appointed as a replacement partner in August 1988.

In 1989 Dr Corcoran’s son, Mark, joined the practice. His appointment followed Dr Corcoran’s wish to cut down and was conditional on his giving a firm date for his retirement as the partners had all accepted that the number of patients on the list did not warrant five full-time partners. When Dr Corcoran retired in July 1991, Dr Gibbs returned in a part-time capacity. After only two years Dr Mark Corcoran decided that he did not wish to continue in general practice and decided to follow a career in the legal profession. Dr Chris Wayte, who had been a trainee under Dr Short, joined the practice in January 1994 but left because of ill health, and Dr Brian Mansfield became a partner in January 1995.

During this time, a suitable plot of land became available in Beckington, and the practice was able to build a new purpose-built surgery that was completed and occupied in August 1995 under the Cost Rent scheme. Not long after the move, Dr Heber decided to retire from the practice at the end of 1996, and his replacement was Dr John Beaven who began working at the practice in January 1997.

Freshford Surgery was enlarged and refurbished in 2002, and Fromefield Surgery was extended and refurbished in three stages over the years.

In the early 2000s, Dr Archer had expressed the wish to become a GP trainer and, with the other partners’ approval and encouragement, took on the training that this involved. In 2004, the practice was delighted to regain approval as a training practice.

In January 2006, Dr Kathy Gibbs was invited to rejoin the partnership on a half time basis in recognition of her hard work and commitment to the practice, and it was agreed to employ a part-time salaried GP to assist the partners.

Dr Archer retired after 19 years with the practice at the end of June 2007. His replacement was Dr Henk Bruggers, originally from the Netherlands but living with his wife and family in the UK for the previous nine years, and who had previously been working as an Associate at the Frome Medical Practice. Dr Beaven took over the training of GP Registrars.

Dr Richard Loveless joined the practice on 4 February 2007, initially as a locum and subsequently as a partner.

Dr Mansfield took sabbatical leave in 2008 and subsequently retired early on medical grounds. Dr Tippin joined the practice at this point and then became a partner.

At the end of 2012 our Fromefield branch surgery moved into new, purpose built premises within the Frome Health Centre building.

Dr Judith Brooks retired from the Partnership April 2017.

Dr Kate Wooding joined the Partnership July 2021.

Dr John Beaven retired from the Partnership April 2023.

The practice operated a branch surgery in Freshford for over 50 years, serving the villages in the Northern part of our practice area. This closed in 2018 when it was clear that the historic premises used were unsuitable for ongoing use as a surgery. A bid to open new premises in the village of Freshford was sadly unsuccessful.