Health watchdog to seek assurances on mental health services

The health watchdog in North Yorkshire is to meet councillors from Leeds City Council and the City of York Council on 15 February to quiz mental health commissioners and providers about plans for mental health services.

A number of questions remained unanswered

A Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, made up of leading councillors from North Yorkshire, Leeds and York, will review proposals to move away from the use of in-patient beds in the greater Harrogate area to a more community-based provision.

At a meeting of the North Yorkshire County Council Scrutiny of Health Committee on 14 December, proposals to reduce mental health in-patient bed numbers in Harrogate were considered. Committee members were concerned that a number of questions remained unanswered and needed to be referred to a Joint Scrutiny Committee, particularly how the transition from in-patient care in Harrogate to community-based care in the area, with some in-patient care in York or Darlington, would be managed.

Cllr Jim Clark, Chair of the NYCC Scrutiny of Health Committee, said: “Our committee members understand that it is better to treat people in a community setting, close to where they live, rather than continue to admit people to in-patient units that do not meet their assessed need and which are outdated. 

“There are genuine concerns, however, that the proposal to stop the development of a new mental health in-patient unit at Cardale Park in Harrogate, to close the beds at the Briary Wing at Harrogate District General Hospital and then move the money saved into community provision, may not have been fully thought through.”

At the 14 December meeting there were also concerns that the impact of the proposed changes on people living in Wetherby had not been fully considered and the impact on mental health in-patient services in York was unclear.

Cllr Clark said: “Working with fellow councillors in Leeds and York, we will be seeking assurances from mental health commissioners and providers that the transition from in-patient care to community-based care will be effectively managed and that in-patient beds are available for those who need them, as close to their home as possible.

“I am of the view that the NHS locally needs to provide the public with a detailed view and understanding of what the vision for mental health care is, what the new ways of working will be, how the transition from the old to the new will be managed and what will happen to those people who continue to need in-patient care.”

This story was published 7 February 2019