Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust provides community, mental health and specialist learning disability services to a population of over 600,000 people across Bradford and Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven. The population in the Bradford District is one of the most diverse in the UK, with over 100 different languages spoken. The district includes areas of high deprivation and higher than average demand for health services.
Lynfield Mount Hospital, the trust’s mental health facility, began making plans for a much-needed development project in 2020. The £90m development plan was the result of extensive involvement with patients, service users, the City Council and a wide range of stakeholders. Initially considered for inclusion as a key mental health site in the New Hospitals Programme, the proposal was excluded in May 2023 following the re-prioritisation of the New Hospitals Programme to accommodate hospitals identified at risk from RAAC (autoclaved aerated concrete).
Lynfield Mount, has slowly developed into a mental health campus with separate units and a main block. The main 1960s block is no longer fit for purpose but continues to provide acute mental health wards for working age adults. On a tour of the site, I was able to see the extent of the challenges faced by staff and patients due to the outdated and deteriorating environment. The outdated block is unable to facilitate the positive, therapeutic environment required for some of the most unwell and vulnerable patients in the region.
Despite this, trust staff have made the best of areas where they can; in the Four Seasons Café, artwork and pottery from patients and service users creates a positive atmosphere (an idea from the trust’s 'i-care' staff suggestion scheme), The trust also invested in a new section 136 facility, which offers safe and comfortable accommodation for patients requiring supervision in a safe space.
I was struck by the need for urgent capital redevelopment of the site. The trust’s director of finance and deputy director of estates set out clear and coherent plans for the proposed redevelopment. This plan includes a lower-cost £45m alternative option, which would still ensure the estate is improved and the original full development achieved. Despite the challenges, throughout the tour, the positive, caring and committed attitude of the staff I met was abundantly clear. Bradford’s patients and staff need and deserve an environment which matches their needs and aspirations.
I left Lynfield Mount with a strong sense of frustration and unfairness in the way that this scheme has been de-prioritised and the cascading consequences for staff and patients at the trust. Lynfield Mount exemplifies the urgent need for investment in mental health services more generally. Despite this, the excellent team remain determined to find a solution – the wider NHS at a local and national level must support them in finding one.