Over £400m pledged to axe dormitories from UK mental health facilities

Funding will replace outdated mental health dormitories with single en-suite rooms

Dormitory-style mental health wards are to be phased out in inpatient units across the country

  • Government has committed to improve the safety, privacy and dignity of patients with mental illness
  • A further £2m announced for six research projects investigating the impact of COVID-19 on mental health

More than £400m will be spent over the next four years eradicating dormitory accommodation from mental health facilities across the country in an effort to improve the safety, privacy and dignity of patients suffering with mental illness.

The pledge by the Government was announced as part of World Mental Health Day and builds on the £250m funding announced in July to remove outdated dormitories as part of the record investment in NHS infrastructure.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, also announced the first 21 NHS trusts that will receive funding to replace out-of-date mental health dormitories with single en suite rooms, to help improve care for mental health inpatients across the country.

The eradication of dormitories will improve the individual care that can be given to patients, allowing them to reduce the length of their stay in the facility.

It will also have benefits for patient safety, including through better infection control and by reducing the risk of incidents involving patients or staff.

This new funding delivers on the Government’s commitment to accelerate investment in health infrastructure, and to level up access to mental health services, so that every inpatient can receive treatment in an appropriate setting.

Millions of mental health patients are seen by the NHS every year and each and every one of them should receive care in wards that are therapeutic and support their recovery

Announcing the funding, Hancock said: “Mental health staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep mental health services open 24/7 so those most in need can continue to get vital support.

“Today I am reiterating our commitment to those patients by stepping up our effort to improve our country’s mental health infrastructure.

“By eradicating outdated and unsuitable dormitories across England we can ensure those suffering with mental illness are given the safety, privacy and dignity they deserve.

“Not only will the new single rooms improve the individual care we can offer patients, but they will provide a better environment for our hardworking staff too.”

Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Nadine Dorries, added: “The last few months have been challenging for everyone, particularly those with pre-existing mental health conditions.

“Every person receiving treatment in a mental health facility deserves to be treated with dignity, respect and privacy, in an appropriate setting.

“I am delighted that today’s investment in mental health infrastructure will ensure that inpatients throughout the country can receive the best-quality care.”

By eradicating outdated and unsuitable dormitories across England we can ensure those suffering with mental illness are given the safety, privacy and dignity they deserve

And NHS England’s national mental health director, Claire Murdoch, said: “Millions of mental health patients are seen by the NHS every year, many thousands as inpatients, and each and every one of them should receive care in wards that are therapeutic and support their recovery, which is why this funding will be so vital.

“And the NHS is also investing in local mental health teams to provide alternatives to ward admission which will help more than two million patients get care closer to home.”

The announcement has also been welcomed by medics. Dr Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “Replacing dormitories with single en-suite rooms is a positive step towards the much-needed upgrading of mental health wards – even more urgent in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and a second wave.

“With this funding, the Government is taking decisive action to properly support people living with a mental illness and we hope that the necessary investment in other areas of the mental health estate will follow in the upcoming spending review.”

In this latest round 34 psychiatric hospitals and wards will receive a share of the funding including: Meadow View in Devon, Kentmere Ward at Westmorland General Hospital, Scarisbrick Ward at Ormskirk & District General Hospital, Alder Hey Hospital in the Park, and Basildon Hospital Mental Health Unit.

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