Ward ‘make-overs’ lead to dementia bed shortage

Eleanor Hines, wife of A Kestrel for a Knave author Barry Hines who has dementia, recently spoke out about the realities of life with the disease.
Eleanor Hines, wife of A Kestrel for a Knave author Barry Hines who has dementia, recently spoke out about the realities of life with the disease.
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Harrogate District’s mental health care provision for older people is set to dramatically decrease whilst a series of ward ‘make-overs’ are carried out.

Bed space on the Rowan Ward at Harrogate District Hospital, which provides mental health care for older people, is set to half from 16 to eight from September 20 while work is carried out.

Harrogate’s mental health services provider, the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, has also scheduled the closure of the next closest ward, the Friarage at Northallerton for refurbishment at the same time, leaving families facing over a one hour drive to the nearest available bed within the trust at Darlington, Scarborough or Middlesborough.

Helen Nash, whose father, former Harrogate councillor Fred Willis, spent time on the Rowan Ward, said: “The glaring omission is what will people do in the meantime.

“The reason the people need hospital care is because they can’t be at home, the distance is just not do-able, families are in a stressful enough situation, never mind having to drive up the A1 on top of it.

She added: “We were lucky in a way as in Harrogate someone could visit everyday.

“I just feel for people, I know what a desperate situation we were in, I don’t know how people are going to cope without having somewhere local to go.”

Coun Jim Clark, Chairman of North Yorkshire County Council’s Scrutiny of Health committee said the work was necessary to bring the Rowan Ward up to standard.

“These plans follow the decision to close Alexander House at Knaresborough, so it will bring the Rowan ward to a satisfactory standard.

“It does mean for a short time there will be a shortage of beds. And obviously other hospitals are quite some distance away but hopefully the work of the community mental health teams and memory clinic, which both appear to be working very well, means there will be less admissions.”

The Rowan Ward closed their doors to new admissions on August 12 and has not yet had to send a patient to a different hospital. A spokesperson said that during the two month refurbishment there will be additional support available to care for people at home. The spokesperson added: “We have planned the building work so that bed numbers are reduced for the shortest possible period. We will do everything we can to minimise the inconvenience.If someone does need to be admitted to hospital and there is no bed available at the Briary Wing we will discuss options with the family.”