Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS’s target to bring together all four mental health specialties to enable improved communication and support safe transfers of care at a new centre, North Moor House, in Northallerton has been welcomed by campaigners who say high quality mental health services will be needed more than ever following the pandemic.
North Yorkshire’s scrutiny of health committee chairman Coun John Ennis said the all-ine-one facility was “the way of the future”.
He added: “This shows the NHS has moved on from where mental health services were thought of as in-patient beds.”
An trust spokesman said the facility would enable the adults, older persons, children and young people and learning disabilities services in Hambleton and Richmondshire to work closely together.
He said it was “long overdue” as patients were having to access services at health centres, GP surgeries, hospitals and even business parks.
The closure of mental health in-patient beds at the Friarage Hospital almost two years ago sparked a wave of concern about access to inpatient services, which was exacerbated by the closure of Bootham Park mental health hospital in York and a plan to build a mental health hospital in Harrogate being abandoned.
However, the trust says the removal of the Briary Wing in Northallerton enabled investment into community services to significantly improve access for service users and carers, and to extend the mental health service offer to better meet people’s needs, especially when experiencing emotional distress.
The trust spokesman said the hub would make services more efficient, increase room space to improve access and reduce waiting, and provide a more therapeutic environment in which people could be safely seen.
He said the pandemic had set back building work less than two months, so the hub was scheduled to open in Kings Park, off Darlington Road, in May.
The trust spokesman said: “The development of North Moor House is a crucial next step for services and represents the trust’s ongoing commitment to invest in the modernisation of mental health services.”
Coun Jim Clark, who has campaigned for better mental health provision in the county, said the trust needed to ensure services were sufficiently staffed as community mental health waiting lists had “gone through the roof”.
He said: ” I am very pleased with the amount that we are putting into mental health, but at the same time demand is increasing.
“There is a tremendous amount of concern for the mental health of young people. A few years ago the big issues facing mental health was dementia. Now since lockdown there are major situations developing among young people who’ve been unable to go to school.
“We really need to be geared up because there are many people with important mental health issues and if we don’t tackle that now we will be having major problems in the future.”