Date published: 22 September 2021

Senior leaders at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust have officially broken ground at the site of a new 40-bed specialist hospital for people with learning disabilities at Maghull Health Park, Merseyside.

Preliminary work is now under way for a state of the art hospital which will be a landmark in a new model of care.

The hospital will be built on approximately 6.5 acres of land to the east of Villas Road on the Mersey Care-owned site, following approvals from Sefton Council’s planning committee and the Department of Health and Social Care. It will only detain patients under part three of the Mental Health Act.

Work begins on our specialist forensic support site in Maghull

Mersey Care’s Chief Executive, Professor Joe Rafferty CBE, said: “We are delighted to have started work on this new chapter of learning disability care. It builds on a long tradition of hospitals providing specialist care in the Maghull area and is another part of our development of Maghull Health Park as a Centre of Excellence.

“This new hospital has been designed with great precision and care. It will look beautiful and will include low carbon features and be energy efficient. Essentially though it will provide support for people across the region requiring complex care in a therapeutic low secure setting to the very highest standards that they deserve and need.”

NHS England Regional Medical Director for Commissioning Dr Michael Gregory said: “I’m delighted to see Mersey Care’s commitment to an innovative new model of care being realised in Maghull. We want to see this site supporting vulnerable people through services and back into their own communities. I look forward to seeing work here progress.”

The Chief Executive was joined by the trust’s Chairman, Beatrice Fraenkel, and senior clinical leads to break the ground today with work expected to continue for two years.

Chief Executive, Prof Joe Rafferty CBE, with Trust Chairman, Beatrice Fraenkel

The Government has committed £33 million to the project, and the site is expected to open to service users in autumn of 2023. It forms part of a specialist pathway of care the NHS commissions Mersey Care to deliver which also includes the nearby Rowan View hospital.

That site opened in 2020 and supports service users in a medium secure setting.

Rowan View has already won plaudits, including a national design award, for service user engagement. The co-location of forensic services across Maghull Health Park offers significant benefits and the proposal has been developed solely with the aim of providing the best possible clinical service to meet the needs of forensic patients with a learning disability.

Prof Rafferty added: “We’re very appreciative of the work done with local leaders and member of the community at engagement events at the town hall pre-pandemic and then online. There will be opportunities for economic benefits, both during the building and in longer-term NHS employment on site. This is an investment in the community as well as in the very best level of patient care for some of the most vulnerable people in the NHS.”

Last year Sefton’s Planning Committee Report concluded: “The proposed building is high quality and would incorporate various energy efficient features, responding positively to the general character of the area and surrounding built form while ensuring a natural buffer to the open countryside and ‘safeguarded land’ to the east. The proposal ensures an appropriate level of parking and supports sustainable transportation.” The local authority asked for landscaping and environmental assurances. These are part of Mersey Care’s plans and fit into the existing community work carried out in the area by site gardeners, volunteers, and others