Wednesday, November 09, 2016

York Mental health hospital consultation

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS is intending to build a new hospital in York to provide mental health support in the Vale of York.  Unfortunately they are taking a very narrow view of what to build (only considering the bits of mental health that they are currently funded to support) and of the consultation (just on the location of the hospital).  

This is my response to the consultation on the new mental health hospital for the Vale of York.

Number of beds

The proposal is a marked reduction in the number of beds for the region at a time when we know that there is a great need for mental health beds with significant numbers of people being shipped around the country due to the lack of availability of local beds.  Having only 60 beds to cover the Vale of York will create severe problems at a time of rising mental health problems and a lack of services to meet the existing need.  Whilst I do not have the expertise to say how many beds are required it is clear that the cuts over the last few years have put a strain on services and even more to the point a severe strain on people with mental health issues.  Using the  formula has clearly not helped as the situation has been deteriorating for many years.

Hospital location

Building a single hospital to cover the whole or the Vale of York is not appropriate as many patients, and their families, will have to travel a long way.  This will mean that it is harder for families to visit patients in terms of both time and cost so that they will be able to make fewer visits.  Yet, we know that contact with family is vital to improvements in mental health.  Therefore there should be more than one hospital to cover the area.  Perhaps one in York and one in Selby.  The location of the one in York might be affected by the location of the second (or second and third) hospitals.

However, if there is to be only one hospital then Bootham Park is the only sensible location.  It has far and away the best public transport access (and drivers can use any of the park and ride points).  It is close to York Hospital which is important for many patients who have physical as well as mental health issues.  And both the other locations are pretty sterile.  There is nowhere to go with patients for a short trip outside the hospital (this appears to be seen as advantage in that the consultation document refers to the low likelihood of other development in the vicinity).  Again, it is important for people’s recovery that they can re-integrate with general society with such things as visits to shops, cafes, cinema, museums etc.  None of these are possible at either of the other sites.  With both the Haxby and Clifton sites it would be necessary to take a bus into town and back again meaning that any excursion would be at least a couple of hours by the time one had got to the bus stop, got a bus, got into town, done something and retraced ones steps.

Service provision

Whilst this does not seem to be part of the consultation I think that there is a problem with the way that the consultation is being undertaken.  We are being asked merely to consider the number of beds to be provided, but in fact that can only be done as part of a proper service review, working out what services should be provided (for instance it might be better to include provision for mother and baby or mother and child units and alcohol treatment units within the provision).  By saying that it is only looking at services provided by Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust a huge opportunity is being missed.  The opportunity to provide an integrated service including social service provision etc.  The hospital cannot, and should not, be treated in isolation.  To take a single example, at the consultation we were told that no provision would be made for alcohol treatment as that is now funded through public health provision.  However, it may well be sensible for an ATU to be collocated in the new hospital, whether funded TEWV or public health.  It is this very failure of integrated thinking and integrated support that is causing many people real and very severe problems.

Another way of putting this, is that the hospital is being designed to match the current funding formula rather than needs of patients and the community.  If you really want to meet the needs of patients and the community then the hospital should address mental health needs, not the funding formula, and this will mean working closely with others with responsibility for parts of adult mental health need and creating a hospital focused on patient needs whatever the funding source.


·        We do not have enough information to know how many beds are needed
·        There should be more than one hospital to cover the area
·        The best site in York is Bootham Park Hospital
·        There is a need to take an integrated approach and not develop the hospital to match the way services are currently funded.


Tom Franklin
York Green Party
15 Priory Street


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