‘I fear more deaths after Bootham hospital closure’ – protest march organiser

Mental Health Action York protests the closure of Bootham Park Hospital. Photographs: Richard McDougall

Campaigners for mental health will take to the streets of York on Saturday (May 14) to protest the closure of Bootham Park Hospital.

March for Mental Health

St Helen’s Square

Sat May 14, noon

Full details on Facebook

Their aim is to increase awareness and express public support for the reinstatement of mental health services which were taken away when Bootham was closed last October.

Mental health patients are now having to travel as far as Middlesbrough and Northallerton to receive care.

It has been reported that more than 150 incidents have occurred where people from the York and Selby region have been sent to out-of-area mental health beds.

A danger to patients

Sign of the times: York will have to wait until at least 2019 for a replacement facility
Sign of the times: York will have to wait until at least 2019 for a replacement facility
One death has already been attributed to Bootham’s closure.

Amanda Griffiths, one of the lead organisers of Saturday’s march and a key player for anti-closure group Mental Health Action York (MHAY) told YorkMix she believes more will follow.

“Staff here are going to have to spend far more time trying to communicate with staff up north.

“And we are aware that staff elsewhere don’t have access to all of the necessary records here. So that’s how dangerous it really is.

Timeline of events

Sep 9 + 10 2015: unannounced Care Quality Commission inspection

Sep 24: CQC formally requests NHS Trust to move inpatients to alternative services

Oct 1: Bootham Park Hospital closes

Dec 16: section 136 ‘place of safety’ suite reopens

Jan 8 2016: CQC publishes full report of findings

Feb 8: outpatient services resume

“It’s far more unsafe to discharge someone from an out of area bed back into their own community at home because it isn’t a cohesive service – it’s not tied to the area that they’re being discharged from.”

There have been promises to build a new mental health facility in York, but not until at least 2019, and Amanda has major doubts about its suitability.

She said:

A lot of people that are already in similar buildings say they just go stir-crazy because the buildings have no characteristics and it’s just a bland corridor.

If you put someone into a residential area they are still in the highly stimulating environment that you took them out of to try and help them recover. The safety net is gone.

It’s simply not the service that they would be getting at Bootham.

The wards are closed

Some people believe Bootham is still open, but the beds are empty and the wards closed
Some people believe Bootham is still open, but the beds are empty and the wards closed

Amanda hopes the rally will bring clarity to some of the erroneous information that has been circulating since Bootham’s closure.

“Some people believe that Bootham is still open because the section 136 suite (for people the police believe are in need of immediate care) reopened, but the rest of it isn’t open.

“The wards are closed and the beds are empty, and there’s capacity there for at least 60 people. And it’s just sat idle while people are dying.”

Support the vulnerable

The March for Mental Health will begin at noon on Saturday in St Helens Square.

“I hope people will get behind the rally and understand the need to support the most vulnerable, whose voices aren’t being heard,” says Amanda.

“I urge the people of York to get behind the campaign to save Bootham Park Hospital, because once it’s gone it’s gone, and we can’t get it back.”