First image of �26m mental health centre

These are the first images of a multi-million pound building project which will modernise mental health services in Suffolk.

IPSWICH: These are the first images of a multi-million pound building project which will modernise mental health services in Suffolk.

From May 2011, most inpatients will be treated in new modern wards, featuring state-of-the-art facilities, at the site of Ipswich Hospital in Heath Road.

Currently inpatients at St Clement's Hospital in Foxhall Road are treated in outdated buildings, which were originally designed as a temporary measure.

The whole �26.3m project consists of constructing a ten-bed psychiatric care unit, and three acute functional wards for inpatients from east Suffolk.

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There will also be a low secure unit (featuring locked areas) consisting of 11 beds at St Clement's and dementia assessment units at Ipswich Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital.

Of the 32 acres at the St Clement's site owned by Suffolk Mental Health Trust Partnership (SMHTP), all but five acres will be sold.

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SMHTP is holding back from putting the land up for sale until the market improves.

It is believed the rest of the site may be snapped up by developers who will use it for housing.

Building work at the Heath Road site, near the maternity block, started in May this year and good progress is being made to convert the 2.4 acres of disused buildings into new wards, featuring a total of 73 beds.

Julie Todd, manager of the project, said: “The benefit of being at the Heath Road site is its diagnostics services. Often people who have mental health issues can have other problems too so it will be handy to be on the same site as Ipswich Hospital. It's the continuity of care and is quite positive for patients.

“We want to create a good, quality personal space with a good degree of privacy.”

Among the new facilities on site will be a sensory room, a gym, and family visiting facilities. Each bedroom will be en-suite and there will also be open spaces with courtyards and gardens.

Groups of clinical and medical staff, users and family carers, and architects and design engineers worked together to produce plans to create the improved ward layout.

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