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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Labour MP Denounces Situation Surrounding Closure of York Mental Hospital

The closure of a mental health hospital in York has led to the local MP describing the health service as “broken”.

York’s Bootham Park Hospital recently closed its doors permanently, following a decision by the Care Quality Commission.

According to the commission, the systems in place at the institution were insufficient to support patient safety.

Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, has been extremely critical of the decision and situation, and has asked questions of the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt regarding the Yorkshire hospital.

The Care Quality Commission particularly condemned the performance of the trust with regard to safety.

An inspection took place to follow up on a report earlier this year, and the commission found that mandated maintenance work and other safety changes had not been carried out as agreed.

In addition, there were issues related to ownership and responsibility which further complicated what was already a disturbing picture for the hospital.

The Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group’s commissioning responsibility for Bootham Park Hospital resulted in the transfer of the service from Leeds and York Partnership NHS Trust to Tees, Esk and Wear NHS Trust.

With the new establishment unable to carry out the requisite building and service risks, the commission felt that it had no choice other than to shut Bootham Park Hospital.

This unfortunately led to existing patients being dispersed, with some having to be sent away as far as Middlesbrough.

To put this into perspective, Middlesbrough is approximately 50 miles from York.

Commenting on the issue, the aforementioned Maskell stated that she was extremely perturbed by the situation.

 “My first concern has been for the patients, families and carers to ensure that their needs are catered for. I have also advocated for staff who are also affected by this crisis. However, due to my detailed understanding of the NHS, and from discussions with all major stakeholder organisations involved in this crisis, it has become evident that huge risk has been created as a result of the complexity of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 where conflicting interests and politicisation of the system has manufactured this situation,” Maskell stated.

The Labour MP also underlined her intention to seek a direct response from the government.

“I have now put calls into the minister for mental health Alistair Burt and health secretary Jeremy Hunt to call for an independent inquiry into Bootham Park to ensure that patient safety can never be put at risk again, and to support an emergency plan to secure the long term health plan for those with mental health challenges in York,” Maskell asserted.

The complexity of the reorganised NHS, where commissioners, providers, regulators and infrastructure bodies, has meant that nine months have passed before essential suicide prevention work at the 18th century hospital could be carried out.

It is clear that the situation led to a significant risk to patient safety, with highly vulnerable individuals having to suffer the ignominy of being moved to new clinical teams mid-course through their rehabilitation.

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