Health chief 'very worried' over future of Harrogate £16 million mental health unit

Work has started widening Beckwith Head Road in preparation for the project.
Work has started widening Beckwith Head Road in preparation for the project.
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The future development of a state of the art in-patient unit, just off Beckwith Head Road, has been called into question as a result of a £6.5million deficit in Harrogate health services.

Work to deliver a £16 million purpose-built mental health facility in Harrogate have been ‘put on hold’ as the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announced a ‘planned’ multi-million deficit.

The decision was taken by Harrogate and Rural District CCG and Tees Esk and Wear Valley (TEWV) Trust, who manage NHS mental health services for the North of England.

Amanda Bloor, chief officer of HaRD CCG, said: “The local health system in Harrogate is facing a significant financial challenge. This year the CCG has a planned deficit of £6.5m.

“This means we need to make sure we review how all funding is spent and consider especially carefully any longer term investments. This is why, in partnership with our partners in TEWV

NHS Foundation Trust, we need to identify good quality, long term, affordable and sustainable options, based on clinical evidence and best practice and we want to involve local people and mental health staff in developing those options.”

The development was hailed as a state of the art facility to replace the inadequate mental health services at Harrogate District Hospital’s Briary wing.

But now a ‘thorough review’ of all options to develop services in the area will be undertaken, while the plans are put on hold.

Chair of North Yorkshire’s Scrutiny of Health Committee, Coun Jim Clark, has called an urgent meeting with HaRD CCG and TEWV Trust, raising serious doubt over the future of the project.

Coun Clark said: “Harrogate used to be the best performing CCG but now they are in trouble.

“Once again it is mental health. I have campaigned for years for better mental health services. I remember campaigning during the closure of services at Alexander House in Knaresborough. We were told at that time we would get a new in-patient unit but it still hasn’t happened.

“They have got the site, they have got the plans and now they are pausing it. It just worries me, how long is it going to be paused for, because the problems are there now.

“I can’t see this going ahead now, I’m very worried about it and the way it’s been handled. ”

Brent Kilmurray, chief operating officer at TEWV, said: “We now have the opportunity to work together to think about new models of care that support people to live fulfilling and meaningful lives in their community, irrespective of their symptoms or diagnosis.

“This means reducing dependency on beds, working with individuals to achieve their goals and making sure that support is available when someone is experiencing a crisis.”

The facility was given planning permission last August and contractors are already on site, widening Beckwith Head Road.

Plans to build a multi-million business park within the same site have also been submitted and the roadworks will continue in anticipation of planning permission to build the business park.

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