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New site explored for state-of-the art Denbighshire mental health unit


A state-of-the-art inpatient mental health unit could be built at a new location on the Glan Clwyd Hospital campus, after planning permission for a preferred site was refused.

In January, an application for Outline Planning Permission on a site to the south-west of the hospital’s grounds was rejected by Denbighshire County Council’s Planning Committee, who cited an unacceptable impact on local residents..

The 64-bed unit would have provided a modern replacement for the hospital’s Ablett Unit, which is no longer fit for purpose.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is now examining the possibility of building on the north western corner of the hospital campus, away from local residents’ boundaries.

Jill Timmins, Programme Director for the Ablett Unit Redevelopment, said the health board had taken on board residents’ concerns and remained committed to working closely with the local community.

“We’re examining the possibility of building on a new site to the rear of Glan Clwyd Hospital, which we had previously ruled out because of the expected cost and disruption of moving overhead high voltage electricity cables,” she explained.

“If this site is a feasible option, we will look at how our existing building design can be adapted to maximise the benefits for both patients and staff.

“We have taken on board residents’ concerns and remain committed to working closely with the local community to develop a mental health unit that they can be proud of.

 “The new location is away from local residents’ boundaries and may afford patients therapeutic views over green spaces to the rear of the hospital.

“We are in the early stages of developing our new plans alongside people who use our services. Once we are in a position to do so, we will invite the local community to examine them in detail and have their say on how we move forward together.”

Reviews by Healthcare Inspectorate Wales have highlighted significant structural issues at the Ablett Unit, which prevent staff from delivering the very best care. These problems have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the introduction of social distancing and the need to isolate patients.

“Our staff are doing everything they can to provide safe and effective care to patients at the Ablett Unit, despite the well documented problems with the building’s environment,” said Ms Timmins.

“We’ve taken a range of actions to mitigate the risk to patient safety, but the challenges of providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic has further underlined the need for significant investment in a modern and fit for purpose replacement for the current building.

“We want to thank our patients and staff for their patience as we continue to do everything we can to ensure this much needed project is delivered as quickly as possible.”