Concerns for the future of a hospital and medical services in a town have heightened after NHS bosses declined to respond to claims they planned to move the services elsewhere, councillors have claimed.
Following a series of claims about future NHS provision in Richmond, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG has stated “all services within the Richmondshire area will remain as they are” for about three years.
A full council meeting of Richmondshire District Council heard the CCG had secured £317,000 from NHS England to support the production of an outline business case for a new Catterick Integrated Care Campus.
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Members claimed the CCG was planning to concentrate NHS services in Catterick Garrison, which would lead to the closure of the 18-bed Friary Hospital, where patients are receive palliative care, rehabilitation following general surgery, or orthopaedic surgery.
The meeting heard there were also concerns for the future of the town’s GP practices.
Councillor Stuart Parsons said: “What we are all being warned by our doctors is that the funding isn’t really for Catterick, it’s to draw everything out of Richmond and the other surrounding areas into Catterick Garrison.
“They are planning to close the Friary Hospital, they are planning to move that surgery out and planning to move the GP surgery on Quaker Lane all the way to Catterick which will cause problems for our elderly population.
“The Friends of the Friary Hospital are very concerned and are starting to mount a campaign to try to save it.”
Councillor Helen Grant said the medical centre was desperately needed in Catterick Garrison and described the current NHS provision there as “a sit-down Third World service”, stating patients were waiting up to six hours for an appointment.
She added: “It would be a great shame if other areas were to suffer. Catterick Garrison has a lot of military people and housing coming along and they will eat up that facility that is coming.”
Councillors also criticised the CCG over the length of time it is expected to take to complete the medical centre, saying it had taken two years to get the funding and would take a further three years to build a business case.
Councillor John Blackie said: “That is ludicrous, it is contemptuous of the needs of the garrison and of the Armed Forces.”
Gill Collinson, chief nurse at the CCG, said: “The funds will enable the CCG and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to develop a joint outline business case which would potentially lead to the build of a new integrated care facility.
“The project would aim to promote modern health services across the whole of the Catterick area including the garrison and in support of the wider Richmondshire area.
“This would mean creating an active partnership between primary (such as GP services), secondary, community and mental health provision through both the NHS and MOD so that the whole population, armed forces and civilian, experience equal access to high quality services in the most efficient way.
“It is a unique and complex project which we anticipate will take around three years to plan in detail. In the meantime, all services within the Richmondshire area will remain as they are.
“There are no set plans as yet. We have simply been given the ‘go ahead’ to develop an outline business case and are very early on in the process and will continue to keep stakeholders, including the council, up-to-date.”
Health campaigner and former Richmondshire District Council leader Councillor Blackie said he had been dismayed by the CCG’s response to the concerns raised over NHS services in Richmond.
He said: “I would have been a lot happier if they said the Friary was a wonderful hospital. That is conspicuous by its absence.”