MoD Catterick Garrison dental surgeries plan branded ‘scandalous’

Artist's impression of the Catterick Integrated Care Campus.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is facing calls to rethink a groundbreaking initiative to create a joint health facility for military personnel and the community living beside the largest British Army base after it emerged 17 out of 18 dental surgery rooms on the site would be reserved for soldiers.

The calls follow elected representatives of communities in Richmondshire expressing dismay over the distribution of resources in the joint NHS and MoD Catterick Integrated Care Campus, which is costing the taxpayer £55m, including a £12.69m contribution from the NHS.

Those behind the care campus have previously highlighted it will deliver a range of primary healthcare services that the whole population of the district will have access to, “regardless of whether they wear a uniform or not”.

A North Yorkshire County Council meeting this week heard the MoD had paid 17 dental surgeries at the campus “as when they get an influx of 40 soldiers returning from tours or preparing to go out in the field they need to be seen”.

An NHS official told Richmond constituency committee an 18th dental surgery at the campus would be for members of the community who are unable to access dental care elsewhere due to their physical or mental health.

Some councillors expressed consternation that the MoD was not planning to allow the dental facilities to be shared with the community at times when they were not being fully utilised, highlighting that residents were “screaming out” for more dental facilities.

Leyburn and Middleham division councillor Karin Sedgwick said wives of soldiers had complained despite facing agony they would not be allowed to use the dental surgery.

Councillors said the MoD’s stance was “disgusting” as the military had been allowed to use NHS facilities at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton and James Cook Memorial Hospital in Middlesbrough.

The meeting was told the NHS would face “very serious questions” if it had 17 dental surgeries that were not being fully utilised and that the NHS retained an aspiration to have NHS community dental services on the site.

An NHS official said: “I would hope in future we are able to bring our MoD colleagues around to the concept of integration sharing. At the moment we haven’t been successful in doing that.”

Councillor Kevin Foster, who represents nearby Colburn, said the scheme represented a golden opportunity for the MoD to work together with the community to help personnel integrate into civilian life.

He said: “I know from working in the military that in August the whole military usually goes on leave unless there’s operations on and to think 17 dental surgeries are not going to be used. After all it’s all taxpayers money, we are all paying for it. I think this needs looking at seriously.”

After the meeting Richmond councillor Stuart Parsons called on North Yorkshire and Richmondshire councils to withdraw their support for the scheme until it was clear residents they represented were not being “left with the crumbs”.

Coun Parsons, the leader of the county council’s Independent group, said residents were already crying out for more NHS dental provision, the families of 2,700 additional service personnel were set to rebased  Catterick Garrison site by 2030.

He said: “This is an absolute scandal. If the MoD wants to reserve everything for the military then they should pay for it all and not take it from our budgets and money from each of our councils and from central government which was meant to be for NHS provision.”

In response, an MoD spokesman said it was continually reviewing the campus scheme, but had no plans to allow the dental facilities to be shared.

9 Comments

  1. So what will the MOD dental surgeons be doing the rest of the time, assuming the will all be dental surgeons or will the be just dental technicians?

  2. This is outrageous. I’m sure Rishi Sunak will become aware of the stance taken by MoD and I would hope he will make an intervention.

  3. I thought this massive project was supposed to be assisting the local community which is desperately in need of a wide range of medical services. It is utterly appalling that military families will be denied support. It is even more disgraceful that the only civilian access will be if you have physical or mental health problems and cannot be treated elsewhere. Here in Leyburn we are still so short of dentistry provision that my son cannot even get dental treatment as a private patient and consequently travels to Bradford if needed.

    • I think this is disgusting and the wrong use of public funds. I could understand them using a few specifically for soldiers but the army family and civilian community, who have a large proportion of veterans, to be allowed when not at capacity,
      they are are being pushed to one side and not considered in this development. Dental care is none existent in this area. To use 17 to be left empty for the majority of the time is criminal.

  4. The MOS already has dental suites just across the road from the new development which they do not share with civilians. Why wait until now to complain?

  5. This is an odd policy considering there is no dentist close to Richmond taking on new NHS patients

  6. Surely the split of MoD and civilian dental surgeries should have been decided before any monies was handed over.
    If it wasn’t, then incompetence is to blame and someone’s head needs to role.
    Councillor Foster should know that when the military go on leave so will the military surgeons. Where is he going to get civilian dental surgeons to man these empty surgeries?

  7. The MoD always does this. Note Saddle Club,using lottery cash, and Leisure centre. Please do not give them any more of my council tax cash

  8. The MOD employ Dentists (mainly RADC but some civilian) to look after service personnel. It is the duty of local NHS Trusts to supply and/or contract civilian dentists to look after the local civilian population. It is the shortage of these civilian dentists that is the problem, not the number of available “surgery rooms”

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