A multi-million pound shake-up of mental health services in Bedfordshire is on track as a draft case for change is presented to the county’s scrutiny health committees.
Under the proposals, a £60m new premises is scheduled for Bedford Health Village, while around £10m would be spent improving the Luton Centre for Mental Health, next to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital.
Service provider East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) is due to present its plans to councillors in Luton and Central Bedfordshire later this month, while those in Bedford borough were first to see the documentation this week.
This gives details about the proposed provision of beds within the county, what mental health community services might look like and the implications for residents, such as location of facilities.
Services will be provided at two main sites across the county, instead of four, according to ELFT’s director of integrated care Richard Fradgley speaking after the health overview and scrutiny committee meeting.
“There’ll be a really significantly improved environment at a purpose built unit in Bedford and a better quality premises in Luton,” he said.
“There will be a net increase in beds of 18 for children and young people. And two beds will be provided for psychiatric intensive care for men.
“Work around children and young people’s mental health services is a major strand.”
Asked about the female demand for such care during the meeting in Bedford, Mr Fradgley explained afterwards: “Women generally suffer it to a much lesser degree than men.
“There was only one woman from Bedford needing psychiatric intensive care last year and two across the whole patch.
“We’re sharing the case for change before producing a report on its findings, which will lead into the pre-consultation business case,” added Mr Fradgley.
The plans would see services provided at Oakley Court in Luton and Townsend Court in Houghton Regis absorbed into the new units.
The draft case for change will be developed further and then published at the beginning of next month.
Views and feedback from service users and carers, residents and stakeholders will be obtained during this summer.
A full pre-consultation business case can then be presented to NHS England, NHS Improvement and the scrutiny committees.
Work is ongoing with the North East London integrated care system (ICS) and the Bedfordshire Luton and Milton Keynes ICS to identify the capital cover, explained the report to the committee.
“This has to be in place to progress the plans to the pre-consultation business case.
“A design team is due to be appointed shortly to help sketch out what the new build at Bedford Health Village may look like, and to gain a more granular understanding of the costs.”
BLMK Clinical Commissioning Group and ELFT are committed to returning inpatient mental health services to Bedford following the closure of Weller Wing at Bedford Hospital in 2017.
ELFT identified Bedford Health Village as a preferred site and is in the final stages of securing a long-term lease there.
“Our vision is to develop community and inpatient mental health services that deliver the best possible outcomes for the children and young people, adults and older adults that we serve,” added the report to councillors.
“This would provide great care in a recovery-focused and therapeutic environment, while supporting our staff and teams to practice to their full potential.”