Task group to address mental health issues among York students

A report highlighting health problems faced by further and higher education students in York was accepted by York’s Health and Wellbeing Board on Wednesday 12 July, as was its recommendation that a task group led by the city’s universities and colleges is set up to address the issues found.

Recognising that students’ health needs – and mental health needs in particular – are changing, the report was commissioned by the Health and Wellbeing Board from City of York Council to help guide commissioners and service providers to meet student need.

While addressing health needs in the round, the report found that mental health has overtaken traditional issues such as sexual health, drugs and alcohol as the main area of concern among students. It suggests measures including improving preventative services and creating a greater understanding and openness around mental health to reduce stigma and so prevent delays in accessing support.

Of a survey of 1,800 students, the report found 45 per cent reported having either a diagnosed or an undiagnosed mental health condition. Students reported a large number of factors affecting their mental wellbeing, including academic pressures, finance, social relationships and physical health problems.  (more…)

Tories announce latest plan to develop Lowfields playing fields.

Tory Councillor Sam Lisle has praised controversial plans to build on the playing fields at Lowfields.

The revised plans see still more of the green field being built on with the nominal “village green” reduced in size to the equivalent of the grassed area on Dijon Avenue.

Lowfields plans 2016

Layout July 2017

He did so on the day that the Council confirmed its plans for an exhibition of the proposals which could see nearly 200 homes (including the rooms in the care home) crammed into the small site. It also revealed that any additional homes built on brownfield former Ministry of Defence land will not be used to offset the pressure to build on green fields like Lowfields.

The Lowfields plans also include relatively uncontroversial proposals for an elderly persons care home and bungalows on the east of the site (on the built footprint of the former school).

The school finally moved its activities from the Lowfield sports field in 2010 although usage by sports teams continues to this day.

The Council says the site, to be known as Lowfield Green, is at the pre-planning stage.

“Suggestions are now invited and comments can be submitted on plans for older people’s accommodation, housing, a health hub and public open space. The latest plans follow on from previous public engagement in October 2016.

The drop-in event this month will be held at the Gateway Centre, Front Street, Acomb YO24 3BZ on Tuesday 18 July from 4:30 – 7pm and is open to all. Invitations have been sent to the immediate neighbours of the site.

At the drop-in event people can see and discuss the plans with officers and learn more about changes to the plans since the last event. Once comments are reviewed and final plans drawn up, the council will submit a planning application this summer.

The proposals for the site include:

  • Over 55’s accommodation including flats and bungalows
  • Family housing
  • York’s first self-build housing plots to be offered by the council
  • Land for community-led housing group, YorSpace
  • A health hub
  • Public open space”.

The Council are coy about a plan to provide a police station on the site. This would have meant the closure of the police depot on York Road and is controversial (although currently located outside the playing field part of the site). Similar unanswered questions remain about the Council ‘s paln to estbalsih a “health centre” on the site with no funding having been allocated for such a function by the NHS.

The Council says that “anyone unable to go to that event can see the plans at a display at Explore Acomb Learning Library Centre, Front Street, Acomb YO24 3BZ from 18 to 28 July 2017, or they can be viewed and commented on at www.york.gov.uk/consultations. (NB. There are no plans on the Councils web site at present)

Councils seek views on Pharmacies (Chemists)

Councils invite residents to “Have your say” on local pharmacy (chemist) services. .


“Tell us what you think about your local pharmacy (chemist).

North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council are working together to review local pharmacy services in your area.

To do this, we need to hear your views on the pharmacies you use most often. The information you give us is really useful; we want to hear from you even if you do not use your pharmacy very often or are happy with the service. The information you provide will help us to plan future services and make decisions on any changes to pharmacies.

The report will be published online in Spring 2018. You can also see the current report on our website.   

2016 report

To learn how we will use the information you give us you can read our privacy notice. None of the information you give us in this survey will be used to identify you personally.

For more information about this report, or to request a paper copy please contact:  jennifer.saunders@york.gov.uk 01904 565270   Closing date: 28/07/2017″

Help with Universal Credit for York residents offered by York Council


Ahead of Universal Credit rolling out for even more residents in York from 12 July, the council says it will support residents who need digital assistance and budgeting support with Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is a new benefit, handled by the Department for Work and Pensions, which helps people on a low income or not in work, meet their living costs. It combines six benefits, including housing benefit and working tax credit, into a single monthly payment.

Currently Universal Credit is only available to single jobseekers in York but from 12th July parents and couples, including people who can’t work because of their health, living in the city and making a new claim will also receive it.

Universal Credit is one of the biggest ever changes to the benefit system and this may cause people to be worried about what will happen to their benefits. People who need assisted digital support or personal budget support should contact the council’s benefits service on 551556 or to visit www.york.gov.uk.”

There are several changes to previous benefits with Universal Credit, including:

  • ·        payments are made in arrears once at the end of the month, rather than being paid every week.
  • ·        payments will go straight into a claimant’s bank account. This means people may need to set up their own direct debits for expenses like rent if it was paid directly to their landlord under the old Housing Benefit system.

Residents who want to claim Universal Credit who are unable to use the internet or don’t understand how to make the claim can contact the council on 01904 551556 to ask for help through Assisted Digital Support (ADS).

People who would like to claim Universal Credit but are having trouble opening a bank account or managing their money can contact the council on 01904 552044 to ask for help through Personal Budgeting and Support (PBS). PBS can help with budgeting and advice on finding a bank account as Universal Credit cannot be paid into a Post Office card account.

The council has also teamed up with South Yorkshire Credit Union Ltd to give tailored advice which could include consolidating any repayments into a single, more manageable account at a lower, fixed interest rate, rather than resort to unregulated lenders or loan sharks.

Private or council tenants or mortgage holders are welcome to take advantage of the scheme which aims to help people budget and manage any debts.

For more information about the rollout of Universal Credit in York visit www.york.gov.uk

“On line” health checks launched in York

Health and well-being team

A new wellbeing service for York residents will launches today with the aim of helping people live happier, healthier and more active lives.

The YorWellbeing service is led by City of York Council’s public health team and seeks to bring all the healthy living services together giving residents access to advice and support on healthy living.

As the new service launches residents are being encouraged to have a free health check online at www.yorwellbeing.org.uk.  The health checks aim to tell people about their risk of preventable health conditions, help them learn about how lifestyle can influence risk and offer advice to live a healthier lifestyle.

People unable to go online are able to call the team on 01904 553377 for support and advice.

Those found to be at increased risk following the online assessment will be signposted to advice and, if eligible, will be offered a one to one appointment with the YorWellbeing team who can offer them personalised advice to help them live a healthier life.

There are many things that affect how healthy and well a person is and as well as the health check offer, working with communities the YorWellbeing service will:

  • provide advice and support on lifestyle factors such as healthy eating, exercise, alcohol and smoking
  • encourage positive lifestyle and behaviour changes
  • work to improve the health and wellbeing of York residents
  • work to reduce health inequalities across the city.


Healthwatch York under review by York Council

The Healthwatch organisation will be reporting to a York Council meeting on Wednesday about their role.

The report comes a few months after the local NHS Vale of York CCG asked the organisation to leave the health bodies governing board.

This led some to wonder whether the “voice of patients” was being properly heeded by the health commissioning body.

Other wondered whether Healthwatch had sufficient gravitas to be effective?

No doubt more will become clearer on Wednesday

The latest contract for Healthwatch was issued by the York Council as recently as April. The contracts value is £575,000 over 5 years. It was let via York CVS

The contract states, “Healthwatch York is for anyone who uses or who wishes to use adult and children’s health, social care and public health services in York – or anyone who cares for or represents individuals who have access to health, social care and public health services in York.

Healthwatch York has a duty to assist local health, social care and public health commissioners and providers, and other community stakeholders, by advising on and helping design engagement activity, and by providing feedback, research and information on local people’s views and experiences of health, social care and public health, in order to drive up standards of service provision.

Healthwatch York must also be able to signpost local people with any complaints they may wish to progress in relation to NHS service provision to the York Independent NHS Complaints Advocacy Service which has been procured by the Council under a separate contract with a provider (in a simultaneous procurement exercise) expressly for these purposes”.

Many eyes are on NHS performance these days.

Healthwatch contract

One area for improvement would involve Healthwatch pulling together each month some key performance stats. They are already available but are difficult for the average resident to find. Area to be covered might include:

  • A & E speed and quality
  • Ambulance speed and quality
  • Waiting times
  • Delayed discharges
  • GP patient volumes and appointment waiting times
  • NHS dentists waiting lists