Plans for £60m mental health centre set to be approved

The construction of a 123-bed medium secure unit on a seven-acre site in Maghull is due to be backed by NHS bosses later today.

The building is made up of four male and two female mental illness wards and two learning disability wards, with support accommodation also provided. The main patient accommodation is single-storey. The only first floor accommodation is the two-storey entrance block at the front entrance. The unit will also include a social hub incorporating a café, therapy rooms and a gym.

Close to the high security Ashworth Hospital, the proposed 110,000 sq ft centre will replace the medium security Scott Clinic in Rainhill.

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust said that the Rainhill clinic “is no longer fit for purpose, due to the small size of the wards, a lack of ensuites, and limited outdoor space.”

The clinic would also replace services at the Maplewood unit in Whalley after NHS England confirmed it was no longer commissioning mental illness and learning disability services from the site. This controversial closure comes after an NHS England consultation into learning disability and autism services led to more priority being given to care in the community.

Dr Michael Gregory, regional clinical director for NHS England in the North, said: “These plans represent a real step forward in terms of how we support people in the North West who have a learning disability, autism or both, and their families, in the future.

“Nobody doubts the dedication of the staff at Whalley, but for too long we have been too reliant on institutional in-patient care, often for unnecessarily long periods of time.”

NHS England hopes the changes will provide patients with more community care while smaller units will provide “medium and low secure services when needed, for short periods of time.”

However, campaigners for the Maplewood unit complained that the closure of such a recently built site was a waste of NHS money. Maplewood was only completed in 2013.

Sefton council approved plans for the Maghull site in December last year. NHS bosses are understood to be meeting later today and if approved the site is expected to complete in 2018.

IBI Group is the architect and Kier is the contractor.

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