THE campaign to reopen Bootham Park Hospital has been boosted by the news that Asda plans to host a petition in its York stores.
Asda's chief marketing officer Barry Williams was alerted to an online petition and coverage of the mental health hospital's controversial closure in The Press.
Mr Williams offered his support in an email to colleague Justine Jackson-Hickling, daughter-in-law of Mental Health Action York (MHAY) campaigner Mick Hickling.
He said: "I have signed the petition. I have contacted our York stores and asked that the Community Life Colleagues look into this and create a way for our customers to sign the petition in the stores."
The news comes as a senior NHS manager said Bootham Park could still host the new mental health hospital planned for York in 2019.
Mark Hayes, chief clinical officer at NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: "We have not made up our minds. Bootham will still be on the long list of places that are considered."
But he added: "This is the only 250-year-old mental health facility in Europe. The problems are almost entirely due to its age.
"I personally don't think that the site is going to turn out to be big enough.
"Bootham Park is a great place to visit, but if you are a patient, you would rather be at places like West Park or Rosemary Park.
"I think in 2019, we will have a really excellent facility. Where that will be will be decided in the new year."
Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) took over York's mental health services on October 1 after Bootham Park Hospital's closure had already been announced by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
TEWV clinical director Steve Wright said: "In no way do we wish to underestimate the impact of this on care users and the community.
"We are hoping to return outpatients to Bootham Park as soon as possible and in as efficient a way as possible."
He added: "We hope to have a full consultation with all partners and the community at large.
"We are looking forward to embarking on that in the new year.
"We welcome consultation. We regret that some of the actions that have had to be done very rapidly have precluded that as an option."
The pair's comments came at a meeting of City of York Council's Health and Adult Social Care Policy and Scrutiny Committee.
Here TEWV was pressed on its plans for Bootham Park.
Cllr Tony Richardson said: "If you're not clear about the way forward, how are these people supposed to be clear about their lives.
Cllr Mary Cannon added: "The CQC doesn't appear to be responsible to anybody. That's something that really needs to be sorted out.
"It is bad enough this happening in York. It will be terrible if it happens in ten other places across the country."