New £17m inpatient unit to open for Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire children suffering mental health crisis

A new acute mental health inpatient unit for children and young people in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes is set to open before the end of 2022.

By Sally Murrer
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 11:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 11:55 am

Funding of £17m has been provided by NHS England to create a dedicated centre in the East of England for the first time, keeping children and young people close to their loved ones.

The interim centre, to be called Evergreen, will based at the Luton & Dunstable hospital site and will provide specialist, short-term care for children and young people with severe or complex mental health difficulties. There will be eight beds.

This is part of a national NHS programme to ensure all systems have specialised services provision to meet the needs of their population.

Evergreen service manager Jenny Sookraj and Madie, one of the service users involved in helping shape the new unit, visit the site.

The funding, which will establish, staff and run the centre for three years, has been awarded to the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care System (BLMK ICS).

The unit will also be open to admissions for children and young people under the care of other NHS services across the East of England.

East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT), which provides mental health services in Bedfordshire and Luton, is the project lead.

ELFT is working in partnership with Central and North West London Foundation Trust (CNWL), which provides mental health services in Milton

Keynes, and with Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (BLMK CCG).

The unit’s development is being completed in partnership with service users and carers, who have chosen the name Evergreen.

Partners are also developing a long-term plan to provide a permanent inpatient unit for children and young people within Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes, which would replace the interim service.

Anne Murray, Chief Nurse for BLMK CCG said: “Having mental health inpatient beds for BLMK will genuinely transform the way our system can respond to the needs of children and young people experiencing a mental health crisis.”

ELFT Chief Executive Paul Calaminus said: “Establishing an inpatient unit is a huge step forward in how we care for children and young people across the East of England.”

He added: This will enable those young people who need specialist help and support to stay close to their loved ones, friends and school – which can play a significant part in helping them with their recovery.”