History of The Grove Veterinary Group
The practice has descended from several long-standing veterinary partnerships in Fakenham serving the local area of North Norfolk. When Mr Harries retired from partnership with Colin Vogel in 1984, the practice moved from its Norwich Road location to Gillham House on Wells Road. Gillham House Veterinary Group began, continuing the long tradition of rural general practice, primarily catering for farm animals and horses with a relatively minor interest in small animals.
Gordon Brown joined Colin Vogel in 1986 and the practice then started a long process of expansion and diversification leading to its current position. In 1988 a branch surgery was opened on Lynn Street, Swaffham and in May 1994 a surgery was opened in East Dereham. Simon Gilbert joined Gordon and Colin in 1995, which marked the beginning of the orthopaedic referral practice. On the 31st December 2001 following the retirement of Colin Vogel, the group became a 100% small animal practice.
The practice was originally located in part of the Colin Vogel’s house Gillham House. As the practice grew, many problems arose which limited our ability to develop further. There was very limited parking for clients and the premises became very cramped with no possibility of expansion. These constraints inevitably resulted in the need to create a new base for the practice.
In October 2001 the group finally moved its main premises in Fakenham following a 4-month conversion of a former administration building, into a spacious and well-equipped surgery with private dedicated parking on the edge of town. This move also marked a change in the practice’s name to The Grove Veterinary Group. Gordon and Simon first visited the building in December 2000, completed the purchase in May 2001 and opened for business in the new facility on October 15th 2001.
Grove House, Holt Road, Fakenham
The site and building was originally the prestigious UK administrative head quarters for an international farm machinery manufacturer. The company was relocating its manufacturing base away from the UK, and therefore looking to scale down its Fakenham site. Built in the early seventies to a very high standard by a renowned local builder, its prominent location and open plan lay-out made it ideal for our needs.
The building offered 6000sq feet on two levels sitting back from the main road in its own landscaped grounds. The building originally had open plan office space with few load bearing dividing walls giving us broad scope to plan the layout of the space internally with almost as much freedom as a purpose built surgery.
Many features of the well-appointed original reception and boardroom were retained as these areas fitted into our plans. The building was also extensively wired with telephone and cat. 5 cabling that could be used for our telephone and computer systems. We have been able to create a large attractive car park that is easily assessable for our clients and provides ample parking for staff.
During the conversion it was necessary to install a new hot and cold water system and drains for all the ground floor areas, other than the toilet block The entire floor space on the ground floor was sealed with continuous fitted and coved ‘Altro’ hygienic safety flooring. The building was previously fed hot water and electricity from the main factory plant, so two new independent boilers and a 3-phase electricity supply were installed. There was previously no gas supply to the building so a new mains gas connection also had to be made. The ground floor was re-wired and provision made for powering an operating theatre, consulting room, reception and imaging room by plugging in a portable generator to an external point at the rear of the building.
The original boardroom was divided to create two consulting rooms. The original fitted ash reception desk and wall panelling were retained and extended where necessary giving an impression of lasting quality. The existing toilet block on the ground floor was converted for unisex disabled access.
In our design, the hub of the non-client areas is a large zoned central preparation area with more specialised treatment areas leading from it. Piped medical gases – oxygen, nitrous oxide and medical air - were installed. A hospital contractor used and the system therefore is to BS standard human hospital specification. Active scavenging units are provided in all treatment areas. The medical gas alarm box is located so that it is visible (and audible) in all treatment and investigation areas.
Separate dog and cat kennelling rooms were high on our list of priorities in addition to separate recovery kennels facing into the preparation area allowing constant observation. Many of the in-patients are relatively high dependency cases so adequate access to piped oxygen and individual lighting and heating has been provided to some of the recovery kennels. Facilities for both showering and bathing animals were also important. After some thought, the simple design of a boxed-in conventional enamel bath on a raised plinth was arrived at, and has proved to be an excellent solution for heavily soiled cases and complements the standard commercial tub table in the preparation room.
Various second-hand NHS items were sourced providing in some cases, better quality than much of the new veterinary-designed but perhaps more cost conscious equipment on offer. A superb 6-foot surgeons scrub sink is located within an illuminated alcove in the preparation area. Large centrally located “Evans Nesbit” trolleys are used for induction of anaesthesia and for initial patient preparation for surgery. Large dogs can easily be trollied through wide double swing doors into the imaging room, operating theatres and kennel area.
Upstairs, existing offices were used for the Partner’s and Practice Manager’s office and a staff rest room (complete with kitchenette) and study area together with two large store rooms. A large meeting room is also available seating up to 70 people.
Since our move, the practice has continued to grow and is now BSAVA (British Veterinary Small Animal Association) inspected and approved, and since the original conversion the builders have been back to create another consulting room, laboratory and enlarge our waiting area. Most work areas now also have the benefit of air-conditioning. The original gravel car park soon proved too small and was re-surfaced and extended in July 2004, and re-inforced to allow a 45 foot 23 tonne mobile MRI scanner to come to the practice on a monthly basis for scanning sessions.
The Grove Veterinary Group was acquired by CVS (UK) Limited in June 2007 and now operates as part of this larger group of veterinary practices and veterinary service providers.