Mental health suf­fer­ers ‘could be held in cells’


PLANS TO close a sec­ond fa­cil­ity in North York­shire for peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a mental health cri­sis will lead to “trau­ma­tis­ing” con­se­quences for pa­tients, a health watch­dog has warned.

Health providers in Har­ro­gate have ap­proved pro­pos­als to push ahead with the clo­sure of the sec­ond of North York­shire’s cur­rent four Places of Safety, which aim to keep peo­ple in cri­sis from hav­ing to be held in po­lice cells.

But Health­watch North York­shire has voiced its con­cern, with op­er­a­tions man­ager Nigel Ayre say­ing it would lead to peo­ple “be­ing sub­jected to un­nec­es­sary and trau­ma­tis­ing de­ten­tion” when they were most in need of care.

A sim­i­lar fa­cil­ity in Northaller­ton is al­ready due to shut its doors in Jan­uary.

Mr Ayre said North York­shire had once been the only place in Eng­land with no health-based places of safety but a “great deal of pos­i­tive work has been done in re­cent years” to open up four such lo­ca­tions.

He said: “One is cur­rently sched­uled for clo­sure and these pro­pos­als could re­duce these num­bers to only two for a pop­u­laMul­li­gan, tion of 600,000-plus in the largest ge­o­graph­i­cal county in Eng­land.

“This can only lead to a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple in mental health cri­sis be­ing sub­jected to un­nec­es­sary and trau­ma­tis­ing de­ten­tion when they are most in need of care.”

North York­shire’s Po­lice, Fire and Crime Com­mis­sioner, Ju­lia also voiced con­cern, say­ing the plans would leave “po­lice of­fi­cers to pick up the pieces”.

She said: “The providers seem to sug­gest that those peo­ple in dire need of sup­port in Har­ro­gate will have to ei­ther go to York or Scar­bor­ough in the fu­ture, which isn’t good enough, es­pe­cially when you con­sider those ser­vices them­selves are of­ten al­ready in use and there­fore un­avail­able, or re­vert to us­ing po­lice cells as a mat­ter of course.

“The sit­u­a­tion is made worse still when you fac­tor in the clo­sure of the very same fa­cil­ity in Northaller­ton, fur­ther re­duc­ing the cur­rent pro­vi­sion for emer­gency mental health care.”

The Har­ro­gate and Ru­ral Dis­trict Clin­i­cal Com­mis­sion­ing Group said the suite, at Har­ro­gate Dis­trict Hos­pi­tal’s Bri­ary Wing, was un­der-used and the move formed part of wider changes to fo­cus on pre­ven­ta­tive care.

Dr Peter Billings­ley, its Clin­i­cal Lead for Mental Health, said: “We are very clear – noth­ing will close un­til there are al­ter­na­tives in place.”

He said dis­cus­sions were un­der way about “de­vel­op­ing a range of op­tions to cre­ate places of safety to en­sure that peo­ple get the sup­port they need when they need it”.

From left, vol­un­teers Ed­die Wil­son, Si­mon Thornes and Ian Stow at work on the canal in Sal­taire

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