Mental health move to hospital revealed

AN OVERHAUL of Suffolk's mental health services could result in the majority of patients being treated at the Ipswich Hospital site, making St Clement's Hospital redundant, it was announced today.

AN OVERHAUL of Suffolk's mental health services could result in the majority of patients being treated at the Ipswich Hospital site, making St Clement's Hospital redundant, it was announced today.

The Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust wants to move its inpatients to new premises on the Heath Road hospital site, leaving behind out of date wards and facilities at St Clement's.

The move, which has been put to the East of England Strategic Health Authority, would cost around £28million and could be complete in around two years.

It involves building a ten-bed psychiatric intensive care unit and 21-bed functional ward on the Heath Road site, upgrading the Bury St Edmunds Wedgwood Unit and converting the Hayward Unit already at the hospital.

Robert Nesbitt, director of community engagement at the trust, said: “We are looking at moving most of our services into hospital land.

“There's a certain amount of stigma attached to St Clement's and mental health services, if provided at the hospital, will become like any other health services and become more user friendly.

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“We've talked to clinicians, users and carers and not only do they think this is the best option, but it is also the best in terms of finance.

“And it means there will be new purpose-built and newly adapted accommodation, as at the moment it's in a pretty awful condition.”

In 2005 The Evening Star reported how plans were under way to knock down and redevelop many of the St Clement's buildings.

However as much of the land at Ipswich Hospital has since been freed up, the mental health trust has changed direction.

Mr Nesbitt said: “Between then and now there have been lots of changes in other parts of the NHS, particularly the hospital site where services are being transferred into the community and they no longer need all the land.”

The plans put forward include Chilton House, a rehabilitation building for people with serious mental health problems, staying at St Clement's. However it will only take up a small corner of the site and the rest could be put up for sale.

The number of beds provided by the service is due to be reduced from 162 to 142 over four years.

Mr Nesbitt said: “We've factored in the affect of having new community services and early intervention services, which reduce the need for beds, but also changes in the ageing population, which increases the need.”

The SHA was due to report back to the mental health trust today.

Are you a Suffolk mental health patient? What do you think of the plans? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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