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New inpatient mental health unit at Glan Clwyd Hospital

10th October 2022

We’re delighted that our outline plans to build a new mental health unit at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd have been approved by the Health Minister.

The new unit, which could cost up to £84.5m, will replace the Ablett Unit at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and the Older People’s Mental Health inpatient facility at Bryn Hesketh, Colwyn Bay.

Reviews by Healthcare Inspectorate Wales have highlighted significant structural issues at the Ablett Unit and we have been developing plans for a modern and fit-for-purpose replacement since 2019.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan has approved our Outline Business Case and we will now begin developing a Full Business Case. This will be subject to further scrutiny and if agreed by the BCUHB Board and Welsh Government, construction work could commence in 2024, with the building accepting its first patients in 2026. Patients, carers, staff and partner organisations have all helped us to get to this point and will continue to be involved as we progress the scheme.

Speaking on World Mental Health Day, Health Minister Eluned Morgan said:

“It is vital that there are fit-for-purpose mental health facilities across Wales that will deliver high quality care for people who need urgent help during crises.

“These new plans will help to improve the working environment for staff, reduce maintenance costs and provide patients and their families with the dignity and space they need to recover.

“Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is subject to considerable scrutiny for mental health after being placed in Targeted Intervention by the Welsh Government. I am therefore pleased to see ambitious and much needed plans such as these move one step closer.”

Teresa Owen, Executive Director responsible for BCUHB’s Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Division, said:

“This news will be welcomed by the many patients, carers, staff and partner organisations who have helped to shape these ambitious proposals. It represents a significant step forward in our improvement journey, as we work towards delivering a mental health unit at Glan Clwyd Hospital that is fit-for-purpose, enabling our hard-working staff to deliver the very best care that our patients deserve.

“Work will now begin in earnest to complete a detailed and fully costed full business case. We look forward to sharing our proposals with Welsh Government and the many other stakeholders with an interest in this much-needed development.”

Our plans for a mental health unit that is fit for the 21st century

The plans include a 14-bed older person’s mental health ward with en-suite facilities and improved recreational spaces. A 13-bed dementia care assessment unit will also be established. This will include provision for families and carers to stay with their loved ones overnight, as well as a secure courtyard, en-suite facilities to all bedrooms, and recreational and therapy spaces.

There will also be two purpose-built 16-bed adult wards with a de-stimulation area on each ward, which will provide a safe nursing environment for high acuity patients, preventing the need for transfer to other mental health units.

An assessment suite to enable suitable patients to be moved from the Emergency Department in a timely manner is included, as is more outdoor and therapeutic space and better staff and family facilities.

You can read the full Outline Business Case submitted to Welsh Government here.

We will be supported by project and cost manager, Gleeds, and construction partner, BAM Construction, who both have proven track records of successfully delivering large scale capital projects, including the Sub-Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Centre at Glan Clwyd Hospital, which opened in 2018.

Proposed location

The proposed new unit will be built on Car Park 5, in the north-western corner of the hospital campus, away from local residents’ boundaries. We are examining the possibility of introducing additional car parking spaces on the hospital site, complete with a number of electric vehicle charge points, in order to ensure that there is no net loss of provision.

Options will also be considered for the future use of the Ablett Unit and Bryn Hesketh Unit.


Work to develop a Full Business Case will run from November 2022 until September 2023.

Subject to approval from Denbighshire County Council’s Planning Committee, the BCUHB Board and Welsh Government, work on site should commence in the summer of 2024, with the building ready to accept its first patients in the summer of 2026.

Get involved

Patients, carers, staff, local residents and partner organisations will continue to play a key role in shaping these ambitious proposals through user groups and drop in sessions over the coming months. We will share further details soon.