A shock announcement over the sale of a hospital site in York which dates back to 1777 has been condemned amid accusations that the wishes of the city are being ignored.
The Bootham Park psychiatric hospital was closed in 2015 after the Care Quality Commission deemed it was no longer fit for purpose, with plans passed for a new 60-bed hospital set to open on Haxby Road in 2020.
Campaigns were launched last year to secure a future for the publicly owned estate, with 8,000 people backing a petition to maintain it for public benefit.
Now, despite a consultation from council and health executives following formal requests to pause any decision, the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed it is to be sold.
In a joint statement, council and health executives have said they are “disappointed” with the decision, vowing that the fight does not end here. York Central MP Rachael Maskell has accused the Government of “selling off York bit by bit”. It was “unforgivable” that the aspirations of 8,000 people has been ignored, she added, revealing that she has held 44 meetings to try and secure the site.
“My greatest concern is that as a growing city and an ageing city, and an acute hospital too small to meet current need, and not enough facilities to meet future need that the health needs of our city have been ignored,” she said, vowing to do “everything in her power” to fight for the city.
There has been much concern over the future of the site since the hospital’s closure.
Discussions have been held over options for its development, from creating playing fields to a primary care centre, affordable housing for staff at York hospital or a residential care home.
City of York Council and local NHS partners had asked ministers to pause the sale while they worked to produce an alternative plan under the Government’s One Public Estate programme.
Surveys and consultation events began late last year, seeking views over what residents would like to be seen done, with 2,000 responses received to date.
In a joint statement, Mary Weastell, chief executive of York Council, Phil Mettam, accountable officer at Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group and Mike Proctor, chief executive of York Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have worked hard together to develop an alternative plan to make the site deliver for York, so we are very disappointed with this outcome,” they said. “Our efforts certainly don’t end here. We will continue working together to help NHS Property Services work with any bidders to understand the importance of the site and the opportunities it could offer the people of York.
“We have many opportunities as a partnership, neighbouring landowners and planning authority to represent your many comments and ideas for Bootham Park.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson added: “The Bootham Hospital Site was confirmed as surplus by the Vale of York CCG in 2017. The sale will remove the cost of securing and maintaining the site, currently being met by the local NHS, and release cash for reinvestment into NHS services”.