Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group’s Governing Body has given the go ahead for a new, purpose-built mental health facility in Maidstone for older adults across the area.
The £12.65 million investment, awarded to the local NHS, is part of a national drive to eradicate ‘dormitory’ style wards in inpatient mental health facilities. It will ensure that Kent and Medway residents have access to the highest standards of inpatient mental health care, should they need it.
The decision comes after a seven-week public consultation. Views were sought on the proposal to relocate the last ‘dormitory’ style mental health ward, Ruby Ward, from its current home at Medway Maritime Hospital to a new unit in Maidstone after the local NHS was awarded Government funding to design and build a new unit.
Ruby Ward is run by Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) and is for older adults (people aged 65 and over) with complex functional mental illness, such as severe depression, schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder. The current ward layout and lack of space means that Ruby Ward can only care for female patients from across Kent and Medway. While staff work hard to provide the best care possible, the ward environment makes it difficult to provide a full range of therapeutic activities, welcome visitors, or enable easy access to outside space.
A state-of-the-art unit will now be built at KMPT’s Hermitage Lane site in Maidstone, alongside other inpatient mental healthcare services. The new building will include single ensuite rooms, space for providing counselling, group therapy, creative activities and access to specially designed garden areas. Dedicated areas indoors and outside for patients and visitors will feature in the new design as well as facilities to help people relearn essential skills such as cooking and cleaning. An improved environment will help patients recover faster and return home more quickly.
Dr Navin Kumta, Clinical Chair of the CCG said: “Today’s decision signals the end of outdated, old-fashioned dormitory wards in mental health facilities in Kent and Medway. The feedback, stories and insights shared with us during consultation demonstrated that we all share a belief that the privacy, dignity, and safety of anyone requiring admission to a mental health ward is paramount.
“Investing in our health infrastructure and ensuring people are treated in an appropriate setting that supports their recovery are central to our ambition of improving mental health care. Building a new Ruby Ward will help us deliver on this.”
Welcoming the decision, Dr Afifa Qazi, Executive Medical Director and Consultant Psychiatrist at KMPT said: “Thousands of people across Kent and Medway rely on us to offer the best mental health care. Most of them will never need to be admitted to an inpatient ward. But, for those who do, that environment is critical in helping them recover and return to their loved ones. This much-needed investment will greatly enhance the care and support we can provide. I am delighted that we will be able to offer people admitted as an inpatient a modern, purpose-built room of their own and in doing so, improve the quality of care provided to one of our most vulnerable patient groups.”
It is anticipated that construction work on the new unit will begin next Spring with the building being fully operational in 2023.
- Full details about the Ruby Ward proposal including the decision-making business case (DMBC) are available on the CCG website at Kent and Medway CCG Part 1 Governing Body (25/11/2021)
- Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is the organisation responsible for planning and buying health care for the population of Kent and Medway.
- Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) provides the majority of mental health care in Kent and Medway.
- The Government has promised to eradicate dormitory style mental health inpatient wards by 2024 and has made funding available for the NHS to achieve this.
- KMPT have been awarded £12.65m of Government funding to replace Ruby Ward.
- One of the conditions of the funding is that any new build must take place on a site owned by KMPT.