NHS bosses have pledged there will be “no hidden cuts” among plans to transform health services to meet distinct needs of Britain’s largest Army garrison and one of the country’s most rural districts.
After Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby clinical commissioning group (CCG) outlined some of the principles behind the future shape of NHS services in Catterick Garrison and Richmondshire, councillors said their concerns had mounted for Richmond hospital The Friary.
Janet Probert, chief officer of the CCG, which manages NHS funding for 22 GP practices, told a meeting of Richmondshire District Council’s scrutiny committee the CCG had been “doing a huge amount of work” preparing an “innovative solution” with the Minisitry of Defence (MoD) at Catterick Garrison.
She said the CCG aimed to open a development, which would feature “physical and mental health support all in one place” and focus on helping people to lead healthy lifestyles, in the 2021/22 financial year.
Mrs Probert said: “Catterick can’t work in isolation. However many people there are in the garrison we need to make sure whatever we do there works for the whole population of Richmondshire.
“We believe by doing it together there are opportunities to offer more services locally in Richmondshire, because the MoD has a big cohort of people and that sometimes helps us to provide things at scale.”
She added the NHS lease on the Friary Hospital expired in 2023 and the CCG had “a duty to review that to ensure we are spending money in the right way”.
Mrs Probert said: “I have one pot of money and what I spend on buildings, equipment and staff all come out of the same pot.”
Upper Dales councillor John Blackie asked the CCG boss whether that meant the Catterick Garrison development would come at the expense of NHS facilities in Richmond.
He said having inpatient beds in the area was vital and the Friary Hospital was “a facility that residents hold very dear to our hearts”.
Mrs Probert: “We have not made any decisions. We have not even opened the debate. This is the start of us looking at it over the next few months.”
CCG governing body member Dr Mark Hodgson added there would be “no hidden cuts” involved in the proposals.
He said: “Rather than taking facilities away from Richmondshire I am sure at the end of this there will be increased and better care.”
After the meeting, Cllr Blackie said he believed the Friary Hospital would be closed.
He said: “I think the days of having any inpatient beds for respite, for end of life care are numbered as well.
“Yet again we are going to have to travel further and further for the healthcare that we need.”