Mental Health Hospital Public Consultation, Response from York Green Party

16 February 2017


Preferred site

The Bootham Park Hospital site is my preferred site. I believe it has clear advantages over the other two sites for the following reasons:

It is centrally located, only a few minutes’ walk from the centre of York and bus routes from all over the city and region as well as very close to York Railway Station;

This proximity is also a great advantage for patients and their families/friends who are able to easily pop out of the hospital into the city centre for brief periods when appropriate;

Crucially, the hospital site is located immediately adjacent to York Hospital, which is a huge advantage as naturally many patients with mental health problems also have physical health needs, which can be addressed far more effectively in close proximity. In my view, moving the hospital site so that it is isolated from York Hospital would be a backwards step. I understand for example, that TEWV’s flagship mental health hospital at Roseberry Park in Middlesborough is located adjacent to the James Cook District General Hospital.

The location offers a beautiful setting, set well back from the main road, which numerous patients over the years have found very therapeutic.

The site is already owned by the NHS and therefore should not need to be purchased in order to provide NHS services.

The historic legacy and heritage of the site as a leading provider of mental health services is much valued by local people and former patients alike.

I am not very convinced by the disadvantages listed for this site in the consultation document:

There may of course be some people who see the site as reflecting some kind of stigma, but I am not aware of any very widespread views to that effect;

The grade I and grade II elements of the building are of course challenges that shouldn’t be under-estimated, but I am impressed by the progress made so far by working with architects to see how new build could be combined with the most highly valued historic parts of the building. We know that English Heritage believe that the key value of Bootham Park is its heritage of continuous use for mental health facilities and that there are other mental health hospitals around the country which combine 21st century facilities with heritage buildings, so I would suggest that with the appropriate organisational will this could be achieved.

Traffic congestion? All sites in York are affected by traffic congestion during the peak periods. The site is located adjacent to the main district hospital, so cannot be that difficult to reach. It is also worth mentioning that York’s draft Local Plan prioritises the use of city centre sites for key facilities as they can most easily be reached from all directions by public transport and therefore contribute to reducing traffic congestion. Out of centre sites, of course increase it.

Site access for service vehicles – is that really a major consideration? Surely given the size and location of the site that can be tackled somehow?

I believe the other two sites both have significant challenges of their own:

Both Clifton Park and Haxby Road are more difficult to reach from the whole of the South of York and beyond, with a requirement for the majority of visitors to use two buses by public transport or drive through or round the city centre;

Both are located close to noisy main roads;

Neither are adjacent to the District Hospital;

There are significant concerns about flooding at Clifton Park;

Significant groundwork needs to be done at the brownfield Haxby Rd site.

Overall in terms of site allocation, I do hope the right decision will be made to both get inpatient mental health services back in York, but also to guarantee their future for the long term. A 21st century modern facility, centrally located adjacent the district hospital on an historic site which has played such a key role in the provision of mental health services in this country, would be a flagship development indeed – an inspiration for parity of esteem for mental health services.

Back in November 2016 I asked TEWV to publish the following information in relation to the three sites:

The transport/travel study they have had done;

Detailed information as to how the proposed new hospital layout would fit onto each site (this was partially offered at the various consultation events, but not to take away);

Detailed information about the costs of developing each of the 3 sites, including a breakdown of land purchase costs and build costs.

So far I haven’t received this. I am somewhat concerned that having gone through this consultation exercise, we are going to be told – well we took into account what the public said, but the decision has been made based on information we haven’t fully shared with you.


Bed numbers

I am not convinced that 60 beds overall will be sufficient. I would think that somewhere in the region of 80 beds would be appropriate. The exact figure should be based on an objective to ensure that when a new state of the art hospital is built no-one who needs an inpatient bed will be placed out of area. At present a number of patients are placed out of area, some as far as Middlesborough or further afield. This causes a great deal of distress and difficulty for the patient and for families and friends.

The figures shown in the consultation document indicate the largest reduction in beds for dementia patients (reduced almost by half even against the recent figures given, which themselves have been considering reduced compared to several years ago). It seems this is predicated on the future care for these people being ‘in the community’ and yet little evidence is presented that this care ‘in the community’ will be able to provide the sort of 24/7 wrap around care that some people with dementia will need at some point or points in their lives – and with a growing elderly population. In addition, the provision of adult beds is also very tight, bearing in mind that the number available at Peppermill Court is already a reduction on the numbers previously at Bootham Park – and that even then people were being sent out of area.

It seems very strange to me to design and build a new 21st century mental health hospital that could easily be seen to be too small, barely before it is finished. Given the positive planning that has gone into this exercise so far, I would urge that this is avoided.

Diversity of needs

I believe you should be planning to ensure that the new hospital has the appropriate facilities and flexibility to meet everyone’s needs. For example, in terms of the ward layouts for male and female patients mentioned in the consultation document the needs of trans-gender and non-binary patients must also be taken into account. You should also strongly consider including a ‘mother/parent and baby’ unit in the new hospital. It is my understanding that one was provided formerly at Bootham Park but never opened, which is very sad. Again, it seems inappropriate that this is considered a specialist service which means it is only available out of area.


16th January 2017

Cllr Denise Craghil