It was all change for patients visiting a new multi-million pound health centre yesterday (Tues), but more of the same for long-serving nurse Frankie Brown.

Staff and patients from the former Blackbird Leys health centre spent their first day at the new £3.3m building in Dunnock Way, Greater Leys, Oxford.

Among them was staff nurse Mrs Brown, 61, who has been with the practice for 33 years.

Mrs Brown joined the health centre in 1973, working for GP Dr William Laurie, the father of comedian Hugh Laurie.

She said: "Space has always been an issue in the old building so I am really looking forward to working in a modern environment with plenty of space which will help us give an even better service.

"The old practice just grew so dramatically until it was bursting at the seams.

"If anything, I will be nostalgic for the closeness of the old health centre.

"We had a very informal relationship within the team because we were all on top of each another. Just walking into the health centre now I wish I was starting again all those numbers of years ago."

In the former health centre, nurses and doctors were forced to share rooms and became overcrowded when patient numbers grew from 6,000 to 9,000.

The new centre was built by a public/private sector partnership, Oxford Infracare Lift Ltd, which included Oxford City Council, the NHS and the private sector.

Practice manager Geoff Price said: "We have worked in overcrowded conditions for many years -- at times it has been standing room only in the waiting room. So for all members of our team, the move could not come quickly enough."

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith dug the first hole when work began in March.