A MAN suffering from mental illness has died as a result of the closure of Bootham Park Hospital, those close to him have told The Press.

The man, who had been a patient of Bootham Park Hospital throughout spells of illness over the last 20 years, died in April. It is believed he took his own life.

He is said to have been in desperate need of help but was adamant he did not want to be moved into a hospital elsewhere in the country away from York.

There have been a total of 169 incidents in which people from the York and Selby district have been sent to out-of-area mental health beds since September when Bootham Park Hospital closed to inpatients.

An inquest has been opened into the man's death and the NHS provider responsible for running mental health services in York has confirmed it has begun an internal investigation.

Speaking to The Press, his family asked for him not to be named publicly while they came to terms with his death.

His sister said: "He has been very, very let down. I'm devastated. I really feel if he was able to get into Bootham Park Hospital where they were familiar with him, they could have got him back on his medications and whatever else they wanted to do. He didn't have to die.

"He was so very desperate."

She added that when her brother went through spells of ill health, he would reach out to her and she would arrange for him to be re-admitted to Bootham Hospital.

She described him as a kind and thoughtful man who "would do anything for anybody" when he was feeling well but who found his illness very distressing.

As reported, Bootham Park Hospital closed suddenly last year after the Care Quality Commission deemed it was not fit for purpose. Since then patients have been cared for as outpatients in the community or have been transferred to out-of-area beds, primarily in Middlesbrough.

A close friend of the man said she had seen him days before his death when his mental health was deteriorating and he told her he would have asked to be admitted to Bootham Park Hospital had it been open.

"I said 'can we get you help somewhere else?' and he was emphatic that we couldn't. He didn't want to go so far away," she said.

"He didn't want to go to Middlesbrough, it was too far away, and when you're poorly you need comfort.

"A couple of days later he passed away. I'm absolutely heartbroken.

"Bootham Park Hospital was a place of refuge and safety and the staff made it.

"If Bootham Park Hospital was open I honestly think he would be alive. He was absolutely let down."

She said that in the time before her friend's death, on Easter Monday he had sought help through the NHS in York but had struggled to access the support he needed.

"He wasn't interested in the politics of Bootham closing. He was just a chap who wasn't well and wanted help," his friend said.

"He was a funny, kind and considerate gentleman who suffered a lot but also retained a great sense of humour."

Dr Bob Adams, a former consultant psychiatrist at Bootham Park Hospital and a founder member of Mental Health Action York, said: "Generally I'm not surprised that there have been casualties of the closure. People are less likely to want to come forward to request help.

"There needs to be investment in mental health services. We need good local teams and hospital beds available when needed."

A temporary mental health unit is due to be opened in York in July as an interim measure, with a new permanent hospital expected to be opened in 2019.

A spokesperson for Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) said: “[The patient's] death was tragic and our thoughts are with everyone who was close to him.

“When someone who is receiving care and treatment from the trust dies unexpectedly we carry out an internal investigation to establish whether there was anything we could have done differently and this is currently underway.”

York Coroner's Office confirmed that it was aware of the death of a man in his 50s and said an inquest into his death was opened last month. The inquest is expected to be concluded later in the year.

- Anyone experiencing feelings of depression and contemplating suicide can phone York Samaritans on 01904 655888.

- People who need help can contact the TEWV crisis team on 01904 610700 (available 24 hours a day, seven days a week).

"It's scary to consider being moved to a hospital out-of-area and cut off from everybody you know."

PEOPLE from York have been sent to mental health beds in other parts of the country on almost 170 occasions since the closure of Bootham Park Hospital.

Figures released by the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group show that since September 2015, patients have been allocated out-of-area beds on 169 occasions.

York Press:

The majority of these have been allocated places with Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) in the north east, at hospitals in Middlesbrough, Durham and Hartlepool, as well as beds in Harrogate and Scarborough. This amounted to 4,289 days.

Since September, nine people were allocated beds outside of the CCG's contract with TEWV, including placements in Lincoln, Newcastle and Darlington, amounting to 396 days.

Earlier this year, the government asked the NHS to cut the number of mentally-ill patients being sent out-of-area after a report showed that about 500 patients travel more than 50km (31 miles) to access care each month.

Dr Bob Adams, a former consultant psychiatrist at Bootham Park Hospital and a founder member of Mental Health Action York (pictured below), said: "There can be different reasons patients are sent out-of-area. Some are going for specialist services, they need forensic hospitals or for specialist rehabilitation. Others have been sent out of area because of the closure of Bootham Hospital.

York Press: Bob Adams

"You have to put yourself in the position of someone who has a mental illness and may be distressed, feeling suicidal or desperate. They may find themselves whisked off to a different county where relatives struggle to visit them. It's scary to consider being moved to a hospital out of area and cut off from everybody you know."

A spokesperson for Vale of York CCG said: "The reasons for patients receiving treatment out of area vary greatly and are dependent on the clinical need, exceptionality and the provision or otherwise within the local area. The Partnership Commissioning Unit (PCU) works with providers to ensure that an out of area placement is put in place as a last resort and then works to bring them back ASAP.

"The CCG works closely with all parties involved to ensure that those patients who require treatment out of area do so for the shortest period necessary and that out of area placements are minimised and ultimately wiped out."

Bootham Park Hospital re-listed by Historic England

THE NHS owners of Bootham Park Hospital asked inspectors to have a closer look at which parts of the building should be protected, it has been revealed.

All of Bootham Park Hospital had previously been listed as Grade I and therefore considered of exceptional historic interest, and subject to strict planning regulations (the site is pictured below with an image from Google Maps).

York Press:

However, earlier this year owners NHS Property Services requested for Historic England inspectors to go into the hospital to re-examine the listing.

Now a significant part of the building has been listed as Grade I - including the front of the hospital and buildings extending behind it - with other parts re-listed as Grade II. Some parts have not been listed at all.

It is thought the re-listing could pave the way to selling the building or adapting it.

Dr David Fraser, the chief executive of York Civic Trust (pictured below), said: "This is a positive step forward because it gives greater protection to the most vulnerable parts of the building.

York Press:

"It clarifies future decisions about the building."

It is hoped a new mental health hospital for York will be opened by 2019, however a temporary hospital is due to open at Peppermill Court in York this summer as an interim measure.

A consultation over where the future hospital should be - which could include the Bootham Park Hospital site, or on land in Rawcliffe, or off Heslington Lane - is due to begin later this month.

It is understood Tees and Esk Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust preference is a new purpose-built hospital in the Rawcliffe area.

However, Dr Fraser said York Civic Trust hoped Bootham Park would remain in use as a hospital.

"We would like to see Bootham Park Hospital continue as a hospital for mental health as it has for the past 232 years," he said, adding that the building had been altered continuously since it was opened and could continue to be.

"Because of the dysfunctional nature of the NHS it was closed before changes could be sensibly made," he said.

Dr Fraser said selling the building off could result in damage to its historical significance. "Whenever a building becomes empty it is much more vulnerable to being radically changed," he said.

Rally and march planned in York next week

- A MARCH for mental health is due to be held in York next weekend. 

The rally and march through the city in protest against cuts and closures of mental health services will start at St Helen's Square on Saturday, May 14 from 12pm.

The event, advertised on Facebook by York People's Assembly, "is to increase awareness and express public support for the reinstatement of mental health services which were so suddenly and cruelly taken when Bootham Park closed last year".