THE days of what has been described as one of the last Victorian asylums in Britain could be numbered.
Health chiefs in Swansea Bay are to consult on proposals to create a new acute mental health facility at Cefn Coed Hospital, Swansea.
Most care for adults with mental health needs is done in the community, but some patients with more severe issues need to be admitted to a hospital-type facility.
This small proportion of patients are currently cared for at a unit at Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend – despite Bridgend now being part of a neighbouring health board area – a ward at Neath Port Talbot Hospital, and two wards in an old building at Cefn Coed Hospital. They have 64 beds between them.
There have been plans to build a single, modern unit for years and Neath Port Talbot Hospital was considered as the most suitable option. But nothing progressed for various reasons.
Swansea University Health Board has now identified the Cefn Coed Hospital site in Tycoch as the preferred option and will launch a public engagement exercise about the proposal on January 31.
It would have an assessment ward, two treatment wards, and a
psychiatric intensive care unit.
Board members said this was long overdue but welcome at a meeting on January 27.
The two wards at Cefn Coed were described in the engagement report before the board as not fit for purpose, despite some remedial work taking place.
The report said:
“The wards are the last remaining Victorian-styled psychiatric buildings in Wales and their design and layout have been criticised in a number of reports as no longer being suitable for providing modern care.”
Referring to the old building at Cefn Coed, Keith Lloyd, an independent board member, said: “We must have one of the last operating Victorian asylums in Britain.”
The proposed new adult unit would have en-suite bedrooms, therapeutic spaces, single-sex facilities, quiet rooms, and indoor and outdoor activities.
Four other locations, including adjacent to Morriston Hospital, were short-listed but Cefn Coed was felt to be the best option by some distance.
Patients and families particularly liked the surrounding green space.
However, the report also said that the potential of stigma attached with the Cefn Coed Hospital site – where people with mental health issues have been looked after for decades – could be a potential disadvantage.
Mark Child, another independent board member, said he hoped health chiefs would move ahead at pace once the engagement exercise was over.
Referring to Cefn Coed, he said, the position was “okay” but that the buildings were “abysmal.”
Health board chief executive Mark Hackett wanted to reiterate that the majority of people with mental health needs were treated in the community.
The work of the existing community mental health teams in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot would not change when the new unit, subject to the results of the engagement and Welsh Government funding, was built.
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