Ruby Country Medical Group has lodged a planning application to turn the former NatWest building in the town centre into a surgery. The practice is continuing to explore options at returning the service to Shebbear and is looking for suitable premises, having had preliminary discussions with landlords. Initial plans to hold GP appointments at Shebbear Village Hall were scrapped in favour of accommodating patients at Holsworthy Medical Centre. NHS England wrote to patients in July to say the village hall, and the community hall in Hatherleigh were not viable for use for clinics or for prescriptions. Both Hatherleigh Medical Centre and Beech House Surgery in Shebbear closed following the retirement of Dr Francis Fernandez. Interim GP appointments continue to be offered at Holsworthy Medical Centre. Dr David Lee is the usual GP for patients from Hatherleigh and Shebbear. He will be joined by a further doctor, who has been appointed and is due to start in October. In the mean time, patients can see any of the GPs at the practice. A free bus service operates every weekday to ferry patients to and from the surgery, though current take-up is not high. The practice said returning services to Shebbear was a delicate process but it was doing all it can to bring GP care back to the village as soon as it can. NHS England had also investigated the possibility of bringing in a temporary mobile surgery to Hatherleigh, but the long lead time, lack of guaranteed availability, limited sites and IT issues made this impracticable. Ruby Country is also seeking medication dispensing rights for its patients in the Hatherleigh and Shebbear areas, with permission needing to be obtained from NHS England. An application has to be based in part on demand from patients, which the practice is collating. Requests for repeat medications can be phoned or emailed to the practice, so no personal visit to the surgery is needed. Many of the local pharmacies can also arrange delivery of the prescribed medications to save on collection. For full detail of arrangements for booking appointments, bus travel and repeat prescriptions, please refer to the letter sent to all patients in July or look at the practice website: www.holsworthymedicalcentre.co.uk .