Work begins on major new mental health facilities for Dorset

18th December 2023

‘Spade in the ground’ ceremonies have heralded the start of work on two building schemes which will greatly enhance services for people struggling with severe mental health issues in Dorset.

Dorset HealthCare has been allocated more than £70 million to improve inpatient mental health facilities at sites in Bournemouth and Poole, as part of the Government’s New Hospitals Programme.

And Lord Markham CBE, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health andLord Markham, peer specialists Naomi Leigh and Keeley Diffey, Matthew Bryant - Alumhurst Road turf-cutting.jpg Social Care, joined staff from Dorset HealthCare and peer specialists from Dorset Mental Health Forum to formally get development work underway.

The first project will see the construction of a brand new, eight-bed psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) for children and young people at Alumhurst Road, Bournemouth.

It will mean seriously ill young people can be cared for locally instead of being sent for specialist treatment elsewhere – potentially hundreds of miles from family and friends.

The second project, at St Ann’s Hospital in Poole, will also see the creation of a replacement adult PICU, alongside additional adult mental health inpatient beds, improved accommodation (ensuring all patients have their own rooms) and a new ‘place of safety’ suite for patients detained under the Mental Health Act.

Both schemes were granted planning permission by BCP Council earlier this year. After initial enabling works, full construction will start early in the new year, with enhanced patient care in place for 2026.

Matthew Bryant, Dorset HealthCare Chief Executive, said:

“We are absolutely delighted that these projects are underway. We’re very grateful to the Government’s New Hospitals programme for the funding to make these facilities a reality, and I also want to thank all the Dorset HealthCare staff who have worked so hard behind the scenes to make this happen.

“These facilities will represent a major step forward for mental health services in Dorset. They will allow us to care for seriously ill local people close to friends and family in purpose-built, modern accommodation, greatly reducing the need for out-of-area placements and improving people’s chances of recovery.”

Minister for the Lords, Lord Markham CBE, said:

It was a privilege to mark the official start of construction works for these new facilities, backed by more than £70 million in Government funding, which will improve mental health care for patients across the Dorset and the wider region.

“These facilities will allow young people to be treated locally near family and friends, and boost the number of mental health beds for patients – a welcome step for the people of Dorset.

“All of this is made possible by the hard work of NHS staff and our New Hospital Programme – as part of it, we are committed to delivering 40 new hospitals by 2030, expected to be backed by an investment of over £20 billion.”

Bournemouth West MP Sir Conor Burns was also on hand at the turf-cutting events to lend his support, alongside representatives from the New Hospitals Programme and developers Kier Construction and MMC Project Consulting LLP.

For further information visit this dedicated web page. It features design images and more information about how these facilities will improve mental health services for Dorset.

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