Construction on new £150 million facilities for Derbyshire patients needing significant mental health support has now officially begun, with people currently being sent all over England for care.
Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is overseeing the building of new mental health facilities at Kingsway Hospital in Derby and at Chesterfield Royal Hospital along with additional new units at Royal Derby Hospital and Walton Hospital.
Construction works started on the major projects in Derby and Chesterfield several months ago but now the first official spade has been put in the ground.
The need for the new facilities could not be more urgent, with mental health patients requiring major assistance currently being sent all around the country due to a lack of beds in Derbyshire.
Long-distance out-of-area placements were and still are meaning that families and loved ones of patients are unable or less able to visit them in hospital, leaving them feeling more isolated and compounding their mental health difficulties.
Previously, the trust has disclosed that Derbyshire patients with severe psychiatric disorders have been sent 65 miles to Bradford and 180 miles to Weston-super-Mare.
This has been a problem for the county for years but now the health trust has the backing and the finances to be able to solve the issue.
Government funding of £80 million is backing the construction of two 54-bed facilities, one at Kingsway and one at Chesterfield Royal, for general mental health support.
The remaining £70 million of the overall project will be to refurbish the outdated and not up to modern standards Radbourne Unit on the Royal Derby site, which would be turned into a 34-bed unit, housed in single-bed rooms, for women only; relocation of a 12-bed older adult’s mental health ward from Chesterfield Royal to Walton Hospital; to build an eight-bed “acute plus” – high severity – mental health facility for women at Kingsway; and to build a psychiatric intensive care unit for up to 14 men, also at Kingsway.
The high severity and intensive care units would mean that for the first time, patients requiring this level of mental health care would not have to be cared for outside of Derbyshire.
Leadership has said there were an average of 14 Derbyshire men receiving psychiatric intensive care outside of the county due to a total lack of local beds.
As of the trust’s board report in early March showing figures for January 2023, this number stands at 23 patients, having hit a peak of 30 in April 2021.
It reported that six patients were being sent out of the county for a general mental health hospital bed due to a lack of capacity.
The trust detailed the combined total number of “inappropriate out of area bed days” for patients in general mental health hospital beds and those in need of psychiatric intensive care – with this figure on the decline but still sitting at around 1,200, having reached above 2,000 in early 2021.
Trust board papers detail the financial and legal issues which the projects have been hit by, including a delay due to land ownership discussions, a 12-week delay for redesigns and the organisation trying to fund surging prices pushed by inflation.
At one stage, the trust was set to have to use £10.9 million from its reserves to get the project over the line, but this has now been reduced to £4.9 due to extra Government funding of £6 million. This impact would reduce the trust’s reserves to £20 million.
Meanwhile, the trust is appealing against an abatement fines for VAT monies owed to HMRC, which has been unsuccessful at the first stage and could cost the trust a further £10.7 million for the two mental health wards and £1.7 million for the psychiatric intensive care unit.
The two 54-bed facilities are due to be complete in 2024, with a mandate to be complete by spring under the terms of the Government funding, and the psychiatric intensive care unit will be complete by 2025, with board papers specifying April, with the “acute plus” facility ready in February 2025.
Arun Chidambaram, medical director at the trust, said: “I am delighted we have reached the next stage of construction.
“A lot of hard work has gone into the behind the scenes of this event and project, so a big thank you to everyone who has been involved in getting us this far.
“Evidence suggests that single room accommodation can reduce the length of a patient’s stay at our services, so not only is this a positive step for patient care but this also promotes better infection control measures and reduces further incidents involving patients and staff.
“The Covid-19 pandemic did highlight gaps in the estate provision within mental health services and I am glad that we have been able to address that in Derbyshire with the new build.
“We are looking forward to seeing how these new developments unfold to achieve the best outcomes for our patients and clinical teams.”
Kate Smith, a children’s illustrator and designer and a workshop leader at the trust, said: “As an ex-patient at the Radbourne Unit in Derby, I understand the importance of having a hospital room that feels like a home away from home.
“I found having a window in my dormitory extremely beneficial for my recovery, it allowed for natural light to come into my room.
“The new buildings will help to improve privacy and dignity for patients suffering with severe and complex mental health needs. This will allow patients to feel more at ease when staying in a hospital facility and become more receptive to available treatments to aid recovery.”
A father who bought a bungalow next to Eckington Leisure Centre to accommodate his disabled daughter said its new environmentally-friendly heating system had significantly increased noise pollution at his home. North East Derbyshire District Council (NEDDC) installed air source heat pumps at the community facility in a bid to improve energy efficiency, however Paul Vardy, who lives in a house in Gosber Road next to the centre, said since then a […]