York GP surgeries helping people back into work – new service offered

New project supporting people off work due to anxiety or mental health issues.

A pioneering non-clinical health service recently launched in north and west York is helping people off work with mental health or anxiety issues return to employment.

The Work Wellness Service, funded through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and delivered by City of York Council through its York Learning team, is operating at surgeries run by York Medical Group and Priory Medical Group.

A Work Wellness advisor will be available through both practices to provide holistic support to patients so they can better reconnect with employment, ease their transition back to their current job or, alternatively, find new work.

 New mental health strategy for York being discussed next week

Members of York’s Health and Wellbeing board will comment on York’s mental health strategy when they meet on Wednesday 24 January.

A newly formed mental health partnership will lead and co-ordinate the delivery of the final strategy which has the vision that ‘every single resident enjoys the best possible emotional and mental health and wellbeing throughout the course of their life’.

The report highlights that people with mental health conditions have a lower life expectancy and poorer physical health outcomes than those that do not.

The main focus of the strategy is to get better at spotting the early signs of mental ill health and to intervene earlier.

The other priorities are to:

  •          focus on recovery and rehabilitation
  •          improve services for mothers, children and young people
  •      ensure that York becomes a suicide safer city
  •        ensure that York is both a mental health and dementia friendly environment
  •     improve services for those with learning disabilities.

The strategy expands on the joint health and wellbeing strategy 2017-2022, of which mental health is a key priority.

Councillor Carol Runciman, Chair of the York Health and Wellbeing Board said: “This five year strategy looks to ensure that every resident in York enjoys the best possible health and wellbeing and will see us establish a city wide mental health partnership to improve mental health and wellbeing for people of all ages.

“Positive mental health and wellbeing is a key priority of the board. We want York to have services that support people in need without delay where there is no stigma and discrimination and where everyone has the best mental and emotional wellbeing. Working with partners across the city this strategy will help us to achieve this.”

The Health and Wellbeing Board meeting takes place on Wednesday 24 January from 4.30pm and is open to members of the public or is available to watch live online from: www.york.gov.uk/webcasts

To find out more about the report, or to attend, visit: http://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=763&MId=10242

Sycamore House reopens after £326,000 refurbishment

 A new multi-purpose centre has opened today (Monday 24 July) after a £326,000 refurbishment of the old Sycamore House building.

The refurbished building, to be (imaginatively) called 30 Clarence Street, will be the new city centre facility providing a range of services for residents young and old.

30 Clarence Street will be the new location for young people’s services, previously delivered from Castlegate, and will provide a drop-in and specialist advice, guidance and support service for young people age 16-18 who are not in education, employment and training. Confidential counselling for young people aged 16-25, and information signposting to services for a range of advice from health matters, relationships, housing and benefits, learning and working will also be available.

The adults’ mental health recovery service will also be based at 30 Clarence Street and will offer support, advice and, guidance to residents who are referred to it. As well as this support, people will also be able to access training and placement schemes, working on reception or in the cafe, to help them develop their skills and confidence.

Residents will be able to enjoy the refurbished Explore reading café where they can browse a range of books, meet friends, socialise and enjoy a cuppa.

The council is also leasing office space on the first floor of the building to York Mind and York Pathways and, given the links between these organisations and the services operating from the ground floor, this arrangement will help facilitate even closer working relationships between the voluntary and community sector, the council and health services.

Later in the year, the building will also welcome ‘The Haven’, an evening service will provide a safe and supportive environment for people experiencing mental distress. Open 6pm – 11pm, 7 days a week, ‘The Haven’ will offer a welcome to anyone needing it and will be run by specialist mental health services.

The opening of ‘The Haven’ was made possible after City of York Council and partners in the North Yorkshire and York crisis care concordat successfully bid for £178,000 of Department for Health funding to support the initiative. City of York Council has provided the other £148,000 of funding for the refurbishment of 30 Clarence Street.

Now The Retreat gets disappointing inspection report

Inspectors have criticised standards at York’s Retreat home which specialises in the care of people with mental health issues. The report may place further pressure on York’s mental health services following the sudden closure of the Bootham Park hospital 2 years ago,

The Retreat report – prepared by the Care Quality Commission – cites concerns about;

  • Medicine management
  • Poor staff development
  • Unnecessarily long stays for older people
  • Inadequate staffing levels
  • Incomplete risk assessments s
  • Poor dining arrangements.

The report does say that all areas were clean and tidy, that staff had good support from managers, patients and carers were involved, staff had a good knowledge of legislation and that proper safeguarding processes were mostly in place.

The Retreat York was established in 1796 and is an independent specialist mental health care provider for treatment of up to 98 people with complex mental health needs. The service is located on a forty-acre site on the outskirts of York City centre. The main building is Grade II listed with a range of their buildings situated in the grounds.

NB The Retreat at Strensall was rated as “good” by the CQC in a similar inspection

What’s on in York: Mental Health Information – Drop In Session

 York Explore Library :

Sat 29 Oct & Wed 2 Nov :

9.00am – 12.00pm & 4.00pm – 7.00pm :


Oct 29Mental HealthDrop in to meet local mental health professionals from The Tuke Centre, which is part of The Retreat. Find out where to go next for more information about mental health care in York, and ask for advice for yourself or others.

For more information click here.

£178,200 funding for “Safe Haven” at Sycamore House

 Boost for mental health services in York
Sycamore House

Sycamore House

City of York Council has welcomed news that the Department of Health has awarded £178,200 to create a Safe Haven at Sycamore House to provide a place of safety ‘out of hours’ for people who are at risk of experiencing mental health crisis.

The Safe Haven will provide a place of sanctuary for people experiencing out-of-hours mental distress and will provide open access and multi-agency support for anybody who attends.   The service will not only provide an alternative to residents going to accident and emergency but will also look to help users feel able to come to seek support from the Safe Haven before their distress escalates into a crisis.

The Safe Haven will operate in addition to the support already provided by Sycamore House, which currently hosts a range of services for mental health service users to aid recovery.

As part of the project Sycamore House will be refurbished and the Safe Haven will have a relaxed, informal, non-clinical atmosphere. The design of the facility will focus on elements that can make a positive contribution to good mental health – ease of access, light, tranquillity, and a cheerful and welcoming atmosphere.

Yesterday, the Department for Health announced the funding that is being made available to improve places of safety across the country. The announcement confirmed the approval of a bid from the York and North Yorkshire Crisis Care concordat, including City of York Council, the Partnership Commissioning Unit (PCU) – an NHS shared service arrangement across the four North Yorkshire CCGs – and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV).  TEWV will support the Safe Haven initiative with links from its Crisis and Home Based Treatment Team and work with third sector organisations regarding the staffing of the Safe Haven.

 Once it opens in May 2017 the new service will operate seven days a week between 6pm and midnight.


Plan for mental health hospital at Lowfields abandoned

The NHS have withdrawn a suggestion that a replacement hospital for Bootham Park should be built on the former Lowfields school site.

The proposal brought a strong reaction from local residents who pointed out that access to Lowfields was only available through a tightly populated residential area. Increased traffic – potentially 24/7 – would have had an adverse effect on the local environment.

In a poll conducted by local LibDem Councillors in July, 57% rejected the idea. Many pointed out that City centre sites offered much better transport links for both staff and patients. Residents favoured the provision of accommodation aimed  at older people on the footprint of the former secondary school.Lowfields survey results

Now we understand that the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust are focusing their hospital search on three locations. They  are the existing Bootham Park Hospital site, a site near Clifton Park Hospital off Shipton Road, and the former Vickers and Bio-Rad factory site in Haxby Road.

The Councils formal consultation on the future of the Lowfields school site is due to commence in October.

It is likely that there will be an exhibition  of proposals at the Acomb Library. before a decision is taken by the Council’s Executive on 8th December.

Many residents also took the opportunity to object to the Council’s plans to build on the Lowfields sports fields when responding to the recent consultation on the Local Plan.

They pointed out that building on football pitches was contrary to national policies and would leave minimal amounts of green space in the nearby estates.


Mental health services in Acomb

The future of NHS services in the Acomb area may become a little clearer at a meeting scheduled to take place next week

Acomb Gables (formerly Garth)

A Council meeting will be told that following a building programme at Acomb Gables on Oak Rise Dementia male beds will be re-provided within this unit.

Meadowfields (York) provides female dementia care.

The change will bring all dementia care within the York locality which will be important due to the connection with the acute hospital and physical healthcare. The transfer of the unit is anticipated during Winter 2016/17.

The Community Mental Health Team currently has office space and a small number of clinic rooms at Acomb Gables. Estate works have been agreed as part of the plans to bring Mental Health Older People beds into this unit. As part of these plans additional clinic space has been developed and will be available from Winter 2016/17.

However there is still no real news on the choice of location at which the City’s new mental health hospital will be built.

More speculation about future of health services in Acomb

The announcement that the Lowfields school site being considered as a possible location for a new mental health hospital has prompted questions about other health facilities in Acomb

Acomb Garth NHS choices web site review

Acomb Garth NHS choices web site review

Acomb Garth (Gables) on Oak Rise already provides mental health services for Acomb. There is no recent report by the CQC commission on Acomb Garth. Acomb Garth was reported to be changing its role with a view to providing dementia care services from March. But little information has subsequently been made public.  

The Trust web site still lists it as providing a HQ for community  mental health services

No change has been made to registration documentation, with the “NHS choices web site” not even quoting correctly the responsible NHS Trust (now Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust). There is even confusion about the name (Acomb Gables/Garth).

Trust web site Acomb Gables review

Trust web site Acomb Gables review

The Trust describe the work at the Garth/Gables as follows:

Acomb Gables Recovery Unit is a 16 bed adult inpatient unit, for men and women from York, Selby and the surrounding areas.

This inpatient service works closely with clients, community mental health team, family and friends.

The site offers:

  • one to one work around psycho-social interventions
  • an evolving therapy group programme and activity programme
  • support with activities of daily living and meaningful activity and employment
  • a wide range of opportunities is made available to access employment; housing; and occupation including voluntary work.

Adjacent to the Garth/Gables is the Acomb Medical Centre.

The Beech Grove GP practice, which is located there, has recently announced a merger with a practice based on Front Street. “It is proposed that the Beech Grove premises, currently in Acomb Health Centre would close and the newly merged practice would be situated at 14 Front Street, Acomb. This is the current premises of Front Street Surgery”. The change is expected to take place in October.

So it appears there will be vacant space on the Oak Rise/Beech Grove site.

Whether this would be a suitable location for a new hospital is another matter.

Transport links in central Acomb are better than Lowfields but neither approaches the range and flexibility of options available in the city centre.

New report confirms muddle & incompetence led to Bootham Park closure

Bootham park

A damming independent report into the closure of Bootham Park hospital, and the subsequent confusion for patients, has been published.

The report author John Ransford concludes,

“If all organisations had worked together in partnership to deliver a plan based on the needs of patients and local people, more suitable solutions would still have been difficult, but surely not impossible to achieve”.

The report heavily criticises the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group together with the former service provider the Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust.

The underlying criticism is of lack of leadership and “joined up” working across the many disparate organisations which are now responsible for health care in the City.

The issue will be considered by a Council committee when it meets on 25th April.

Another report, by NHS England lists 18 areas where local health managers and contractors failed patients.

“Healthwatch” the patients watchdog also says that “closure of Bootham Park Hospital has been immensely stressful for many people involved and that the impact will continue to be felt for the months to come”.

NB. Following a Care Quality Commission inspection Bootham Park Hospital was closed for “safety” reasons on 1st October 2015. Some outpatient facilities are being re-established there but it is likely to be 2019 before a new facility is opened to replace the 240-year-old former lunatic asylum