CONCERNS are growing over the number of mental health inpatient beds in North Yorkshire after NHS bosses revealed that plans for a new hospital in Harrogate have been scrapped.

Councillors fear the plans may mean patients are sent to York's new mental health hospital being built on Haxby Road - and York residents could be sent further afield for treatment.

Tees, Esk and Wear (TEWV) NHS Trust said instead of the inpatient services they would invest funding into care in community settings.

A joint health scrutiny committee meeting on Friday was told the trust had made a U-turn on a pledge to provide extra mental health beds in York to compensate for putting plans for a mental health hospital in Harrogate on hold.

And when pressed over whether the Harrogate facility was still an option, following the closure of Northallerton’s mental health ward this month, the trust’s chief executive Colin Martin said: “I can’t see a situation where we would be building the hospital that was originally planned.”

The meeting was told the decisions meant inpatient beds in North Yorkshire would have dropped from 150 to 90 in one year, putting pressure on services in surrounding areas.

Nigel Ayre, operations manager of Healthwatch, said the further reduction in beds was “very alarming”, combined with the loss of two facilities for people who are detained by police under the Mental Health Act. He said travel distances will be increased significantly for people in hospital and their families, but he welcomed community services.