New Health Unit Is Taking Shape

Work has started on a new £9.2m mental health unit for the elderly at the Great Western Hospital site in Swindon. Bulldozers moved in to clear the site in May and contractors have been busy laying the foundations for the new unit in recent weeks. It is hoped the project will be completed by the end of next year. The unit, which is being built by the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP), will provide services for older adults with mental health problems, including in-patient beds.

The beds will be divided between older people with functional mental health problems such as severe depression, bipolar disorder, severe anxiety and schizophrenia and people with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

The new facility will replace the ageing Victoria Hospital in Okus Road and is being built next to the GWH and Swindon Intermediate Care Centre (SwICC). As well as admitting inpatients, the unit will also treat outpatients and run therapy programmes.

“We’re very happy that this project has started taking shape,” said Gill McKinnon, AWP project manager. “Our main contractor, Kier Western, started building work in May. The preparatory work is finished and the foundations are now in place.

“Staff are really looking forward to moving into the new state-of-the-art unit which will provide a much better environment for patient care. The unit is based on the Great Western Hospital site so that older people, with both mental and physical health needs, will be able to receive their care in one place.”

As the new mental health unit will be based next door to the GWH, it will help to minimise anxiety for patients and ensure that patients receive co-ordinated care from specialist mental and mainstream health services.

Plans for the unit, which were first mooted in 2003, were given the green light in November last year by Swindon Council after studying plans drawn up by Bristol-based architects Kendall Kingscott.

In spite of he new development, senior staff at GWH insist that there will still be room for the hospital to expand in the future.