A new £4m in-patient unit for mental health patients could be built in West Norfolk, alongside proposals to expand services.

Eastern Daily Press: Michael Scott, chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust . Photo: Steve AdamsMichael Scott, chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust . Photo: Steve Adams

The region's mental health trust has drawn up proposals alongside service users and West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) with the aim to more effectively provide in- and out-patient adult services from one, central King's Lynn site.

It would see the closure of 16 beds currently based at the Fermoy Unit, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH). But the new unit, also with 16 beds, would open at Chatterton House, in Goodwin's Road, after a multi-million pound refurbishment which would include building a connecting area between two currently empty wards.

Other services would also be based there including the crisis resolution and home treatment teams. And it is planned 'alternative to admission' services would be developed, including day treatment for those well enough to return home but who still need some further support.

The Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney service and psychiatric liaison services would remain in the A&E department of the QEH.

NSFT's CEO Michael Scott said: 'We are very excited about these proposals and think that together we have found the best solution for redeveloping and improving our west Norfolk adult acute services, and ensuring their sustainability into the future. This will see significant financial investment into new and existing services, as well as more effective ways of working to improve the experience of people accessing our care.'

Pauline Davies, NSFT's west Norfolk locality manager, led the review of services in the west of the county. She said: 'Once the work is complete, we will be able to offer truly integrated adult mental health services from the site. People who have been discharged following inpatient care, would be able to return to the same building to access community services.'

NSFT's board and the West Norfolk CCG governing body will discuss the proposals on Thursday, June 29. If ratified, the next step will be to continue to liaise with service users, carers, and partners to gather more feedback and finalise plans, with building work potentially starting in 2018. The proposals are expected to be on display at the CCG's annual general meeting on July 20 at King's Lynn Town Hall.

Fears over closure quelled

Last year campaigners worried any closure of the Fermoy Unit would mean patients would have to travel to Norwich or Mundesley for an inpatient bed.

Hundreds of people marched through King's Lynn with the aim of safeguarding the unit's future after it closed to new admissions temporarily in April 2016 due to a lack off staff. When it did reopen, it was with 15 beds - plus one emergency bed - down from 20.

The new Chatterton unit would offer state-of-the-art, en-suite single room facilities for men and women with a variety of mental health conditions, such as depression and bipolar disorder. One bed would be reserved for patients discharged from the general hospital who are awaiting onward referral for a mental health condition. NSFT's community mental health service already has a base at Chatterton and the move would base all adult acute mental health services in west Norfolk onto one site.