£22m mental health building on cards

A STATE-of-the-art mental health centre could be built on the Ipswich Hospital site in a bid to improve services, it was revealed today.

Rebecca Lefort

A STATE-of-the-art mental health centre could be built on the Ipswich Hospital site in a bid to improve services, it was revealed today.

Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (SMHP) is hoping it will be given the go-ahead for a £22million scheme which would see four new wards built on the site.

Part of its current base at St Clements's Hospital in Foxhall Road would also be refurbished while the majority of that land would be sold off.

SMHP thinks the new infrastructure is desperately needed as its current inpatient wards are not up to standard.

However the new plans would also see around 20 fewer beds available for patients than the trust currently has available.

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Robert Nesbitt, the trust's director of community engagement, said: “The idea is to have a wonderful environment, which we don't have at the moment.

“We're going to go from having quite grotty wards to having, if not the best, among the best wards in the country.

“It is something Suffolk can be really proud of.

“We will have less beds but that is because we are focusing much more on providing care in the community now.

“People want to be treated in their own homes and we have seen an increase in the amount of work we do in the community.”

As part of its efforts to provide more community care the trust is about to recruit 63 more members of staff for psychological therapies and has set up an early intervention service to find people at risk of developing a psychotic illness before they need hospital treatment.

If the new build gets the go-ahead the rooms would be en-suite and have been specially designed with the input of doctors and the public so the surroundings help patients recover.

It is hoped work could start at the beginning of 2009 and take two years, if SMHP is backed by Ipswich Borough Council planners and bosses at the East of England Strategic Health Authority.

The money for the project would all come from SMHP, partly funded by the sale of the St Clements's land.

Does more need to be done to improve mental health facilities in Suffolk? Are you keen for mental health wards to be based at Ipswich Hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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