The Chair of North Yorkshire’s Scrutiny of Health Committee has condemned a decision to abandon plans for a new £16 million mental health facility in Harrogate, describing it as the biggest blow in the history of the NHS in the town.
A joint health scrutiny committee for North Yorkshire, Leeds and York, heard that Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust would invest funding into care in community settings instead of inpatient services.
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The meeting was told the trust had made a U-turn on a pledge to provide extra mental health beds in York to compensate for putting plans for a mental health hospital in Harrogate on hold.
And when pressed over whether the Harrogate facility on Beckwith Head Road remained an option despite the closure of Northallerton’s mental health ward this month, the trust’s chief executive, Colin Martin, said: “I can’t see a situation where we would be building the hospital that was originally planned.”
The meeting was told the decisions meant in-patient beds in North Yorkshire would have dropped from 150 to 90 in a year, putting pressure on services in surrounding areas. After the meeting, the Chair of North Yorkshire’s Scrutiny of Health Committee, Coun Jim Clark, said this means residents will have to fight for better mental health facilities in Harrogate.
He said: “We’ve had decades of under-investment in mental health, and the postcode HG is a very poor postcode if you have any mental health issues.
“Three years ago we were saying that this was the biggest investment in the history of mental health in Harrogate, and today these are the biggest cuts we are looking at in the history of the NHS in Harrogate, it’s shocking.
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“What upsets me most is that we’ve campaigned to get better facilities for Harrogate, we eventually got them, and we pulled out all the stops to get planning permission.
“We’ve already altered Beckwith Head Road, we’ve already done the work so we could have a proper entrance, so to have it pulled away like this is dreadful. It’s a national health service, therefore it should be the same throughout the country- it’s not good enough. We need to get the message across to people, that if they want better mental health facilities in Harrogate, the people are going to have to fight for it.”
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At the joint health scrutiny committee meeting, the chief executive of Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys trust, Colin Martin, denied the trust was “cutting access to in-patient services,” but said there is a greater focus on home treatment.
A joint statement from the Harrogate and Rural District CCG and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, reads: “In late 2018, the Harrogate and Rural District CCG Governing Body approved a proposal which would see enhanced investment in community mental health services and provision of inpatient services in specialist facilities outside the district, possibly in York.
“Under this proposal, development of an acute inpatient mental health facility at Cardale Park will not be going ahead. We’ll be investing more in services which keep people out of hospital, while ensuring that people who are admitted receive appropriate specialist care in a setting which is best able to support their timely and sustained recovery. This approach will enable us to maximise patient safety and deliver the quality of the patient experience.”