Plans for a new, £4 million mental health inpatient facility in Lynn, which would replace the town’s existing Fermoy unit, have been outlined.
Senior managers say the scheme will enable them to better integrate services at a single, more centrally-located site.
But the proposals have so far had a mixed reaction, with some claiming patients will still not have the level of care support that they need.
Under the plans, the Fermoy unit, which currently offers 16 in-patient beds, would be closed.
In its place, refurbishment work is set to take place at Chatterton House, in Goodwins Road, to provide a new unit with the same number of beds as those currently provided at the Fermoy.
The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), the body responsible for mental health services, says the Fermoy site at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is “no longer regarded as the most ideal premises for a modern adult acute unit.”
However, it insists that the site would be retained for administrative purposes until “a more appropriate use can be found for it.”
It also maintains that any decisions about its future would only be taken after a final decision on whether to move services to Chatterton House is made.
The trust says it has worked for the past year with the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), staff and patients to develop the proposals.
They include single room facilities for men and women with a range of mental health conditions, plus a single bed for a patient awaiting referral following discharge from a general hospital.
Crisis services will also move there and the trust intends to develop day treatment services, which it describes as “Alternative to Admission” services, for people who need support but are well enough to go home.
Pauline Davies, NSFT’s locality manager for West Norfolk, said: “Once the work is complete, we will be able to offer truly integrated adult mental health services from the site.
“People who have been discharged following inpatient care, would be able to return to the same building to access community services.
“The significant refurbishment would offer us an excellent opportunity not only to improve the facilities from which we provide care, but also introduce to additional services for the benefit of patients and their families.”
The CCG’s chairman, Dr Ian Mack, added: “We are delighted to be bringing forward these proposals to our Governing Body for developing our local adult acute mental health services.
“We have been working closely with NSFT and look forward to being able to improve what can be offered within the local area.”
The proposals, which are due to be considered at an NSFT governors’ meeting next week, were today welcomed by North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham.
He said Chatterton House would provide a “state-of-the-art” facility and establish itself as a “centre of excellence” for mental health care.
He said: “I believe it makes sense for the demands of mental health needs in West Norfolk to be met at one location, where all the necessary help, support and treatment can be accessed by patients.”
But North West Norfolk Labour secretary Jo Rust warned there would still be insufficient capacity to meet both current and future mental health care needs.
She said: “By removing the Fermoy unit they’re removing the possibility of increasing the number of beds available. It was built to accommodate 100 beds.
“They’re ensuring they can never take more than 16 in-patients. What happens if you’re number 17?
“Our population is increasing. We’re always seeing new houses being built. Do they really believe they’ll only accommodate people who don’t have mental health conditions?”