York’s new mental health hospital is to go ahead – with extra beds.

The regional NHS trust today (Thursday, June 15) gave the green light for the new facility on the site of the former Bio-Rad factory on Haxby Road.

It will have 12 more beds than originally envisaged.

The purpose-designed hospital will have 72 beds – four 18-bed wards instead of four 15-bed wards as outlined in the initial proposal.

However it will not be completed until 2019 – four years after the decision to immediately close Bootham Park Hospital.

‘A bed when needed’

The Haxby Road plan was approved by directors at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

But it was not the most popular choice during the public consultation on the plans.

The Bootham Park Hospital site was preferred by 181 people, with Haxby Road the choice of 117. Only 69 preferred the third possible location, Clifton Park.

“The Haxby Road site has the space and layout we need to build a purpose designed hospital, that will support 21st century care and I’m delighted that the proposal has been given the green light,” said Nick Land, medical director at the trust.

“Although we want to make sure that people can receive the care and treatment they need at home whenever possible, it’s also important that they are able to access a bed when they need one.”

People “were worried that we wouldn’t have sufficient beds and we have listened to their concerns,” he added.

More needs to be done

Abruptly closed: Bootham Park Hospital. Photograph: Richard McDougall

Work will now continue to finalise plans for the new hospital. This includes submitting a formal planning application, purchasing the land and appointing a construction partner.

York Central MP Rachael Maskell welcomed the news that “by 2019 York will have a purpose built and specially designed mental health facility to meet the needs of our city”.

But more needed to be done, she said:

We all know that York’s mental health service needs a lot more investment in the community, in early intervention and therapeutic services, and I will continue to make the case for this.

Residents continue to raise serious concerns with me about access to services, waiting lists and on-going support for young people and adults.

Bootham Park ‘sell-off’ concerns

Bootham Park Hospital is set in extensive grounds

Ms Maskell is also concerned about the future of the Bootham Park Hospital site.

Managed by NHS Property Services Limited, under the recently published Naylor recommendation it would be sold to the highest bidder – likely a property developer.

She said that the hospital and grounds were given, by generous donation, to the City of York in the eighteen century.

“It is now vital that the public interest in the site is placed above all considerations.”