The Liberal Democrats have said that all the mental health beds in the Briary Wing, the mental health unit in Harrogate, are at risk of going.
The unit is managed by the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation with funding from the Harrogate and District Rural Clinical Commissioning Trust (HaRD CCG).
The Briary is made up of the Cedar Ward for 18+ age adults and Rowan Ward for 65+. The CCG also pays for treatment with Private Mental Health Care providers, such as the Cygnet Hospital.
There was a day unit called Hawthorn that closed about 5 years ago.
In July 2017, the CCG stopped work on a £16million mental health facility for Harrogate – this followed a forecast deficit of £6million.
Libdems believe that the government’s significant underfunding of Harrogate and District Rural Clinical Commissioning Group has left local managers struggling to balance their books. They believe that due to the financial deficit, all 50 mental health beds could be a lost due to cuts.
If the unit closes then mental health patients will have to be in treated in York, Darlington or Scarborough.
Matt Walker, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Harrogate and Knaresborough commented:
This shows no care or compassion for sick patients and their families. It is an absolute disgrace that family members who need to visit will have to travel such distances. It goes against best clinical practice and NHS guidelines. Patients should be treated near to home to aid their recovery. Without the right care these patients will be a step closer to homelessness and suicide.
The underfunding of the NHS by the government puts additional pressures on our police and busy A&E.
The CCG has released a response saying that the beds are not at risk. There is a confused strategy as the CCG were previously investing £16million in a new unit, but without any consultation. The town now apparently needs a “conversation” to define the changes to services.
Inpatient mental health services are to close at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.
NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has said it will close inpatient services and strengthen community mental health services for adults and older people, so that more people can be supported at home. The CCG says the aim is to reduce the need for hospital admissions.
Harrogate and Rural District CCG say that they are engaging with the unit and are actively pursuing a strategy of reducing admissions.
Harrogate and Rural District CCG’s Chief Officer Amanda Bloor, regarding mental health services in the area:
Ensuring people with mental health concerns receive the best care possible is a priority to us all. There has been no changes to current local mental health care services.
We have started conversations with people who access mental health services, their carers, partners and voluntary and community organisations and have been asking for their views on what local mental health services they would like to see now and in the future. Ongoing conversations and engagement will continue. This will inform the design and development of any changes to services.
Consultation will follow as and when appropriate.
The aim is to involve as many people as possible in these conversations so that everyone can have their say. This is very important.
We are committed to continually understanding the needs of local people, making sure we take into consideration any information people have already told us.
I’d like to reassure people that we are considering people’s needs fully so that we can develop, long term, safe, affordable and sustainable quality services for people across the whole of the area. Local people’s mental health is a priority for us all.
We are aware of a press release which has been issued with the headline ‘All 50 mental health beds in the Harrogate area at risk due to NHS cuts’. This is not the case and the situation is, in fact, as outlined above.
The Briary Unit is also in need of urgent investment to bring it up to standard – there are no plans on the horizon for that.
In a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report of May 2015 – both Ward 15 at the Friarage and Briary are noted as having ‘environmental’ issues.
Whilst early intervention for mental health should be seen as a positive step, there will always be some that will need inpatient care. Having inpatient treatment out of the area makes it much more difficult for friends and family to visit and provide support.
Matt Walker added:
Each year, 1 in 4 of us experiences a mental health (MH) issue. I know first hand that if you have a mental health condition you are at your most vulnerable, often unable to speak up for yourself.
As the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson I am speaking up for these vulnerable patients and am determined to fight to protect our vital health services. Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust (TEWV) who provide these services, are running a consultation that I have fully participated with. I am meeting with TEWV to look at possible solutions so that they can continue to build a state of the art facility inpatient facility at Beckwith Head Road. Services should also include crisis, outreach, early intervention, children and young sympathy and care.
If you would like to get involved and show your support as thousands have already done, please sign the petition that will be presented to HaRD CCG.