Mental health revamp announced

A MAJOR bid to revamp mental health services could see one of the county's oldest hospitals closing, it has emerged.The existing St Clement's Hospital in Ipswich, will no longer house people suffering from mental illness once the multi-million pound project is completed, but new facilities could be built on the site.

A MAJOR bid to revamp mental health services could see one of the county's oldest hospitals closing, it has emerged.

The existing St Clement's Hospital in Ipswich, will no longer house people suffering from mental illness once the multi-million pound project is completed, but new facilities could be built on the site.

Health bosses want to build a £30million inpatient facility in the town to replace the current "out-dated and inappropriate" facilities.

They are considering building the new facility on the 18-acre St Clement's site, in Foxhall Road, or in the grounds of Ipswich Hospital.


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A planning application had been submitted for demolition work to begin on the St Clement's site, but was withdrawn when the opportunity to relocate to land at Heath Road arose.

Public consultation has now been launched on both options and will run until August 24.

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A final decision will be made at a meeting of the Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust on August 26.

The proposals are part of an overall package designed to modernise mental health care in the region and it is hoped the new facility will be up and running by 2007.

If the trust decides to move its premises to Ipswich Hospital, it could sell off the St Clement's estate to help pay for the project.

The new inpatient facility, which will serve the Ipswich, central Suffolk and Suffolk coastal areas, is likely to be mainly funded for by a Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Early estimates have placed the cost of the development at £28.9m.

Martin Royal, director of strategy and partnership at the trust, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to improve mental health services for Ipswich and Suffolk.

"We want to replace our old and out-of-date facilities – many of our current buildings are expensive to maintain and inappropriate for mental health care."

Options including developing brownfield or greenfield sites for the new facility, which will host about 140 beds, have been ruled out. Trust bosses would also rather develop a new building than refurbish existing facilities.

Mr Royal said there would be scope to build a new inpatient facility on the existing St Clement's site but a move to Ipswich Hospital was also being considered.

He said: "At this stage there are no exact details on which buildings would be demolished at the Foxhall Road site but I am fairly certain that we won't see a wholescale knocking down of the old St Clement's Hospital. That simply would not make sense."

Public consultation meetings are being held at the Cedars Hotel, Needham Road, Stowmarket, at 2pm on Wednesday, June 30; at Woodbridge Community Hall, Station Road, at 2pm on Thursday, July 8 and in the Board Room, Suffolk House, St Clement's Hospital, at 7pm on Tuesday, July 13.

what do you think of the proposals? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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