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New west Norfolk mental health unit £400,000 over budget due to structural concerns

Chatterton House. Picture: Norfolk and Suffolk NHSFT

Chatterton House. Picture: Norfolk and Suffolk NHSFT

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A new mental health ward in west Norfolk has gone £400,000 over budget after problems were found with the structure of the building.

Chatterton House is getting a new ward, with a local name. Samphire Ward. Photo: NSFTChatterton House is getting a new ward, with a local name. Samphire Ward. Photo: NSFT

The go-ahead was given for a new £4m unit to replace the Tennyson and Chase wards at Chatterton House, in King's Lynn, in December 2017.

The plans included a 16-bed unit as well as a new crisis suite, which will replace the existing suite at the Fermoy Unit on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) site.

But papers put before Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) bosses at their board of directors' meeting on Thursday revealed £400,000 more had been spent than planned, and bosses did not initially know about the overspend.

The papers said that because NSFT's estates department was working under a "lack of clear ownership, significant workload pressures, and previously accepted historic practices" when it was discovered the project was going to cost more, information was never presented to the board for approval.

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The extra costs arose when it was discovered there were no foundations under the existing external walls, which meant steel beams needed to be installed.

It was also found the rooms were all at differing levels and thicknesses, so these had to be broken up with new floors laid.

Plus the additional work cost £124,000 in staff time.

The papers said all managers had been reminded of the process of approving extra costs, and the ward, named Samphire Ward, was still due to open in July 2019.

The initial £4m came from a successful bid for £4m in funding from NHS England, which was led by NSFT in partnership with West Norfolk CCG.

A spokesman from NSFT said: "NSFT has spent the funding it was awarded on redeveloping the Trust's Chatterton House, bringing King's Lynn's specialist adult acute mental health services onto one central site.

"This redevelopment includes a ward of 16 single, state-of-the-art, ensuite rooms for men and women with a variety of mental health conditions, such as depression and bipolar disorder. They added: "The project to transform and improve mental healthcare in west Norfolk includes refurbishing existing outpatient facilities and expanding the range of services available to support patients within the community."

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