Royal Marines of 42 Commando at Bickleigh near Plymouth, have marked the completion of their newly-built medical and dental centre with a ceremonial opening (Friday 25 May).
The new building provides enhanced clinical care for patients providing a full range of treatment and preventive medicine, including a physiotherapy suite.
Commander Carol Betteridge and Royal Marine William Cassidy Little unveiled the commemorative plaque ceremonially opening the medical centre. Cdr Betteridge was a former commanding officer of Camp Bastion hospital in Afghanistan supporting 3 Commando Brigade on combat operations by treating front-line casualties. She now works at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Royal College of defence Medicine in Birmingham and said: “This facility is a high priority and provides the highest possible standard of care to make the Commandoes fit for the job they do. It has been a great honour to unveil with plaque with Marine Cassidy.”
Marine Cassidy was deployed as a medic with J Company of 42 Commando in Afghanistan. He said: “I became a patient as I lost my left leg a year ago on deployment when I got blown up by the Taliban. The medical readiness of a unit is one of the hidden areas that not many people know about. The conditions that men work in, whether they are in Afghanistan or on Dartmoor, means that you need to be at a peak of medical fitness. The new sick bay brings us into a new age as we understand more of the medical and dental needs. On the plus side the medical and dental centre will also provide medical education.”
The CO of 42 Commando Lieutenant Colonel Neil Sutherland said: “This is an extremely important facility. Our previous medical facilities were very dated and not fit for purpose for a Royal Marine Commando unit in 2012. The medical department had been split up but what we have now is everything on one site for physio, dental and medical – they are all under one roof. Now the quality and care for the Royal Marines is far improved. Our sick bay is a mix of military and civilian people. When we deploy the civilians remain here and will be able to maintain the high standards whilst we are deployed. Dental welfare and fitness of a unit is extremely important. We need to be able to maintain high levels of fitness in the unit. Rehabilitation is absolute key to our medical practitioners. Physio is important day to day business which also includes people who get injured on exercise; we need to get them back to full fitness as soon as possible.”
The dental centre section offers the latest standards in dental healthcare, allowing concurrent treatment by dentists, hygienists and dental nurses using the latest equipment and techniques.
Although the dental team is ready to use portable dental equipment to support the Commando Unit on the frontline and other deployments worldwide, the staff and new building will allow efficient delivery of complex and routine dentistry in order to maintain the dental health of the Royal Marines at their base.
The director of Royal Naval Dental Services, Surgeon Captain Richard Norris, said: “The dental health of the Royal Marines has been an important component of our military effectiveness for many years. This new facility will allow the dental services to continue to offer the highest standards of care and treatment available.”
Surgeon Lieutenant Amelia Pedrick, 42 Commando Senior Dental Surgeon, said: “We are looking forward to increasing the range of hygienist and preventive dentistry available to our patients; Royal Marines need and deserve the best dental care available and we are now in a position to deliver”.
The medical and dental centre has three permanent dental staff, a visiting dental hygienist, one general dental officer and two civilian GPs; seven Royal Naval medical assistants and one physiotherapist. The cost of the new sickbay was £3.1 million.