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


New project helps York children with emotional and mental health needs

 To support teachers concerned about children and young people with emerging mental health needs, a new well-being pilot project has been set up in York to explore how to respond to this challenge.


The well-being pilot project is a joint initiative between City of York Council, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and two clusters of schools, which aims to strengthen the emotional and mental health support arrangements for children and young people.

Alongside the idea that children and young people’s mental health is everybody’s business, additional mental health capacity and expertise is being provided to schools by new School Wellbeing Workers.

These workers will focus on providing training, offering support and advice to pastoral staff, and delivering individual and group work to children and young people.

£284,000 savings in York education team as 3 face redundancy

The Council has revealed details of a new staff structure in its “learning” team. The restructure is aimed at saving £284,000 a year in staffing costs and has been influenced by the conclusion of some Europe funded projects.

Some voluntary redundancies have already taken place. Three existing staff face compulsory redundancy

The background report says,

“Many of these savings are coming from reduction in management posts, but there will also be some savings in direct service delivery, including reductions in some teaching staff, reductions in employability programmes and provision to support mental health issues.

These reductions are going to have a serious affect on the service’s ability to support individuals seeking work and those who require help with recovering from mental health issues”.BehindClosedDoors 2015

The decision was taken at a “behind closed doors” meeting held on 21st December.

Reports were not made public until after the decision had been published

Mental Health facilities upgrade in York

Funding to improve mental health services in York has been approved by NHS Property Services.

Cherry Tree House

Cherry Tree House

NHS Property Services and NHS England have been working with local NHS services to address property and facilities issues in York to ensure that all mental health services can be accommodated appropriately within safe, secure and modern environments.

The first of the two schemes proposed will see the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS Tier 4) move out its current base at Lime Trees on Shipton Road into Mill Lodge – a refurbished building that will provide modern and safe mental health facilities for young people.

The second scheme will upgrade Cherry Tree House in the Heworth area of York to provide a purpose built unit for elderly patients currently cared for on Ward 6 at Bootham Park Hospital.


LibDems and mental health