YORK politician Rachael Maskell has handed in a petition signed by over 8,000 people calling for the reopening of Bootham Park Hospital.

The York Central MP was joined by Luciana Berger, shadow cabinet minister for mental health, and two constituents to hand in the petition started as Bootham Park Hospital closed its doors to inpatients last October.

Ms Maskell is calling for a new build mental health hospital to be constructed on the same site of the former hospital, stating that it is crucial to allow accessibility.

It is understood the preferred site of mental health providers Tees, Esk & Wear Valley NHS Trust (TEWV) would be a new build near Clifton Park Hospital in Rawcliffe.

But Ms Maskell said there was a general consensus from patients, staff members and carers the hospital should remain in Bootham in the interest of service users and said she would campaign to ensure this was the case.

She said: "The petition is looking to bring people back into York as part of its real focus.

"The issue of access is vital."

Ms Maskell said discussions with Historic England suggested the Victorian part of the building could be pulled down in order for a purpose built hospital to be constructed.

She said further details had come to light about how the closure, due to safety concerns held by the Care Quality Commission, was allowed to come about. Ms Maskell re-emphasised calls for an independent investigation into the closure which left York without a mental health hospital.

Ms Maskell has also invited NHS Improvement to invite them to consider the matter.

She said TEWV had made a good start in York since taking over services in the aftermath of the closure of the hospital but added: "The real test now is whether they listen to service users about what they want for the future of the service. It's crucial that happens.

"My biggest concern is the lack of scrutiny about how this happened."