Refurbishment work on a busy medical practice in Catterick Garrison is nearing completion.
More than £400,000 is being spent updating Harewood Medical Practice.
The work, which should be completed by Easter, will see facilities in the Richmond Road building improved with two new consulting rooms and a new reception area and waiting room for the practice’s 7,400 patients.
The building is also the base for the GP out-of-hours service for the Catterick, Richmond and Dales area.
Progress of the work was inspected by Richmond MP Rishi Sunak during a recent visit to the practice.
Mr Sunak spoke to the staff about the challenges of providing a family doctors’ service to patients on the garrison, many of whom are service personnel and their dependents. He heard how the practice’s patient list would double in the next few years as the garrison expanded.
He said: “I was most impressed by the refurbishment and the commitment of the doctors and the whole team at Harewood.
“Because of the presence of the garrison, Harewood’s patients are not typical of North Yorkshire and that means the doctors have different problems to deal with.”
Mr Sunak said he would do all he could to help the practice cope with the influx of patients brought by the garrison’s growth.
Last November, it was announced that Catterick would become a “super garrison” with 2,000 more troops plus dependents being transferred there from other bases around the UK and from Germany.
During his visit, he was told about the Harewood team’s innovative use of a psychologist to provide speedy mental health treatment.
The practice’s managing partner Stephen Brown said Cathy Byard had been seconded to the practice by the local mental health trust for the pilot project. A highly experienced consultant psychologist, she was providing a valuable service.
He said: “Cathy offers patients direct access to a mental health professional who can offer assessment, psycho-education, brief intervention, signposting and referral where necessary.
“Cathy also offers more in depth work with those patients for whom early intervention could avert significant deterioration.
“If patients are referred on it can take several weeks before they receive the help they need and that can make a big difference.”
Mr Brown said the continuation of the successful project, which he said was unique in the UK, would depend on funding.