Judicial Review Criticises Closure of Mental Health Hospital

The closure of York’s only public adult mental health hospital with just five days’ warning could put lives at risk according to a judicial review.

Bootham Park hospital was closed suddenly in October last year after a critical report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

But Rachael Maskell, Labour MP for York Central, suggested that patients had been badly let down by the health service.

Maskell also asserted that Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for health, had failed to address a crisis in which vulnerable mental health patients had been left for months without local services.

The initial decision of the CQC was made owing to the fact that the commission decided that the building, which was initially constructed in 1777, posed a significant risk to patients at the institution.

However, critics of the decision suggested that the Bootham location could simply have been repaired, or should be closed at a later date once local replacement services had been arranged and cemented.

One NHS trust boss commented that he thought it was “the first time an NHS hospital has been closed … in such a short period of time. Even Winterbourne View was not closed within four working days of the Panorama programme [showing abuse of vulnerable patients by staff] being broadcast.”

Five months after the decision was taken, enquiries have found that there are no adults mental-health beds in the entirety of York.

Bootham Park was closed just months after a damning report into the state of mental health in the UK, which found that local bed shortages were forcing 500 severely ill patients at home or than 30 miles to receive the key psychiatric care on a monthly basis.

Wider studies have also found that the decline in mental health services across the UK is quite stark in pure quantitative terms.

Indicative of this is the fact that there has been paid near 40% reduction in acute mental health based in the UK in the period from 1998 to 2012.

York previously had three NHS mental health hospitals as recently as 1987, but now has zero.

The aforementioned Maskell suggested that the government, and Jeremy Hunt in particular, must take responsibility for the situation in York and address it as quickly as possible.

“The crux of my inquiry is who has overarching responsibility for patient safety in the NHS? To date it seems that nobody takes that responsibility. Clearly, it should be the secretary of state.”

The decline of mental health treatment in York, and indeed the UK as a whole, can be placed in a context of a declining health service suffering from massive financial difficulties.


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