AS MEMBERS discussed £67.7 million replacement for the Ablett mental health unit at Glan Clwyd Hospital, it was revealed that a change of name may be on the cards in the future.

On September 23, members of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) approved the Business Case - for the Adult and Older Person’s Mental Health Unit - ahead of its submission to Welsh Government.

The facility, which aims to improve the quality of patient care, will not only replace the existing Ablett Unit at the Bodelwddan based hospital but the Older People’s Mental Health inpatient facility at Bryn Hesketh in Colwyn Bay.

Addressing board members, Teresa Owen, executive director of Public Health, said: “This is about the Adult and Older Person’s Mental Health Unit, what we often discuss as Ablett at present. Going forward we have an opportunity with its new face, and maybe change the name and to change the discussion around the unit and have that holistic view of mental health and wellbeing.”

Ms Owen drew the attention of members to five investment objectives.

“What we are trying to make sure is that we have a clinical model and a care model that aligns with the mental health approach across Wales and of course, is best for our patients,” she explained.

“That we have an environment which is clinically appropriate for our patients in this day and age.

“That it supports our workforce and recruitment activity and it is about improving the quality of the environment of the estate itself, that one is key, those who visited the current unit will know the challenges documented and of course the need for us to be flexible going into the future and for us to future proof our services.”

Ms Owen revealed her desire to get the build off the ground.

The new build will include a 14-bed Older Person’s Mental Health functional ward that incorporates bedrooms with ensuite facilities, improved circulation and recreational spaces and improved observation; A 13 bed new fit for purpose dementia care assessment unit with an end of life bedroom [This will include provision for families and carers to stay with their loved ones overnight] and two purpose-built 16 bedded adult wards, which will be designed flexibly to respond to gender split and future models of care.

Lucy Reid, vice chair at BCUHB, said: "There is evidence out there that mental health services should be reducing their number of in-patient beds rather than increasing them."

She asked Ms Owen how the number of beds had been decided upon and how "transition friendly" its environment was, specifically relating to younger people.

Ms Owen replied: "I've been having discussions with Jill Timmins [programme director for the Ablett Unit Redevelopment] who has been checking out the situation across Wales in terms of the approach for beds. I think, given the current demand, and some of our issues at the moment, there is mixed evidence on the need for the future. We have looked at the bed modelling very carefully, we've considered our requirements and we did touch base with a couple of health boards in the last few weeks to check where they were with some new builds elsewhere being discussed in Wales."

Iain Wilkie, interim director of Mental Health and Learning Disabilities at BCUHB, explained the national picture.

He said: "Beds have been reduced significantly over the last 10 years. The picture is that we have a future requirement for increasing beds, that the current capacity is too low. It would significantly reduce the need for out of area placements, people from North Wales, so we can cope and have significant flex to cope with the significant demand."