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England's chief nurse welcomes completion of improved £4m mental health facilities

Brand new facilities which will transform and improve mental healthcare in West Norfolk have been officially opened by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, attended the unveiling of Samphire Ward – together with a purpose-built section 136 suite, where people in a mental health crisis who have come into contact with the police can receive specialist assessment – at the Chatterton House site in King's Lynn on Friday (28 June).

The ward is made up of 16 single en-suite rooms and was created by refurbishing two existing empty wards and building a connecting area between them. It will cater for men and women aged 18 and over with a variety of severe mental health conditions.

The work has been carried out by local construction company SEH French. It came as part of a wider £4m project which has also seen the range of services available to support patients in the community expand to include a day treatment option.

Ms May said: “I’m delighted to be back in King’s Lynn, which has a very special place in my heart. It’s where my daughter, Lucie, was born, and as a former CEO of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital I’m so pleased to see this great development for local mental health services. The ward is going to make a huge difference to people’s experience of treatment at a time when they are feeling most vulnerable, and it’s so important we get this right.”

The final piece in the jigsaw will see the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team transfer from the Fermoy Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to Chatterton House next week. This will bring all adult secondary mental health services in the town onto the same site,  and will ensure people can more easily access the care they need whether as inpatients, in the community or at home.

The exception is NSFT’s Mental Health Liaison Service, which will continue to be based at the hospital to provide timely specialist mental health assessments to patients in the emergency department and short-stay wards.

Diane Hull, Chief Nurse with NSFT, said: “We are delighted that this important project is complete, and the fantastic new Samphire Ward can welcome its first patients. The refurbishment has vastly improved the environment in which our patients will receive care, which we hope will also have a positive impact on their recovery.

“We’ve worked closely with our service users to design the ward area and choose the furnishings, and have tried to make the space as comfortable, therapeutic and calming as we can. It’s really important for our patients to feel relaxed and reassured during their admission.

“The project has given us the opportunity to introduce additional services for the benefit of patients and their families. This includes our new day treatment service, which is giving clinicians more choice about the best way to support service users while ensuring more people can access the care they need within the community, too.” 

The plans were developed in consultation with service users, clinicians and NHS West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), working in collaboration with the Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP). The project was made possible following a successful bid for £4m in funding from NHS England.

Sarah Jane Ward, Director of Nursing and Quality Assurance at NHS West Norfolk CCG, said: “We recognise how service users and staff will benefit from receiving and providing care in this modern therapeutic design, and from the bringing together of services in one place.

“The CCG is also working with NSFT and other system partners to provide people with alternatives to attending the emergency department, such as a mental health hub in King’s Lynn provided by West Norfolk Mind.”

Pictured: Andy Hudson, Deputy Director of Nursing, West Norfolk CCG, Francesca Hankins, NSFT's Lead Nurse for West and South Norfolk, Pauline Davies, NSFT's Locality Manager for West Norfolk, and Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, at the official opening of the Trust's new Samphire Ward in King's Lynn.

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