BOOTHAM Park Hospital faces immediate closure after inspectors found the building in such a bad state that part of the ceiling fell on them.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors found patients were at "significant risk of harm" and have ordered the hospital to officially close on Wednesday. About 30 patients on the acute admission wards are due to be allocated new hospital beds - many of which could be out of area.

The decision comes following an unannounced inspection on September 9 and 10, to see whether required safety improvements had been made to the 18th century building, which had previously been found unfit for purpose.

But inspectors found the required improvements had not been made and sources told The Press it was in such a bad state that part of the ceiling fell down during the inspection.

The CQC subsequently decided the facility - including the safe unit for people detained by the police - must close urgently and registration will be withdrawn on Wednesday. Staff were called into a meeting to be informed on Friday lunchtime.

York Press:

A CQC spokesperson said: "Despite significant work having been undertaken to attempt to improve the premises, our unannounced inspection two weeks ago identified some very serious environmental risks to patients on the older adults ward, excessive water temperatures, a lack of call alarms for patients, insufficient staffing numbers and poor hygiene and infection control.

“As a result we have imposed an urgent legal restriction on the registration of the trust preventing the use of the older adults ward (ward 6) and we are considering further action to protect the safety and welfare of patients. All patients from ward 6 are being transferred to other older people’s wards within the trust and we have reported our concerns to City of York council safeguarding team.

“Taking action of this nature is not something that the Commission take lightly and we recognise the upset that this has caused to patients and their family members. However, when we find that people are at significant risk of harm, as we did in this case, we must act swiftly to protect people."

On Thursday all patients from the elderly assessment ward at the hospital were moved to Cherry Tree House in Heworth as part of a pre-planned move.

About 30 inpatients from Wards 1 and 2 are to be moved to alternative accommodation and all outpatients and community patients currently seen at Bootham Park will be seen at alternative accommodation, the Leeds and York partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT) said.

It is unclear what will happen to hospital staff, with a LYPFT spokesman saying some would follow the relocated patients and others could be re-allocated throughout the trust.

A mental health expert and former senior member of staff at Bootham Park Hospital said: "It's complete madness, I'm horrified. It sounds like a sick joke to close a hospital in a matter of days.

"Where they are going to go I have no idea. Most of the hospitals in the surrounding area are full.

"It could be a problem for people visiting them. Most of the patients with mental illness do not have a great deal of money and I'm sure there will be no provision for relatives to visit." The situation is complicated as LYPFT is due to lose the contract to run mental health services in York next month, when it will become the responsibility of Tees, Esk & Wear Valley NHS Trust.

Chris Butler, chief executive of Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said they would do what they could in patients’ best interests.

He said: “The Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group with NHS Property Services has been leading work on the interim improvements at Bootham Park which have been subject to repeated delays. These delays have been outside the control of the Trust which has been a source of great frustration. Whilst we raised concerns about these delays with the CQC, the health regulator Monitor and with the Secretary of State for Health’s office, it appears we are now in a very difficult situation which is not of our making.”

Vale of York CCG said it was disappointed by the decision but that its "priority now is to work with our partners to ensure patients are moved to new accommodation with minimum disruption and to a setting that is as convenient as possible."

They said: “As the timescales are extremely tight, we must ensure patients continue to receive the care and treatment they need. We will however continue to review the situation over the coming weeks and months to ensure they are receiving care in the most convenient place for them and their families.

“Longer term, we will continue to work towards our vision for a modern, purpose-built mental health hospital for patients in the York area.”

In January, the LYPFT was told it must improve as it emerged York has much worse services than Leeds.

The Care Quality Commission said Bootham Park Hospital is not fit for purpose and “not appropriate for the services being provided” with patient safety being put at risk due to potential ligature points in the listed building, where patients might harm themselves.

In 2014 a major investigation was launched after 74-year-old Sheila Jane Rusholme was found hanging at Bootham Park Hospital. Her death was described by her family as an avoidable tragedy after LYPFT admitted a ligature point she used should have been removed earlier.

Earlier this year the matter was raised in Parliament by then MP Sir Hugh Bayley, who called for urgent plans to replace the 250-year-old building.

Rachael Maskell, York Central MP, said finding a new facility for mental health patients in York must be a Government priority.