Ward left empty after cash blunder
PART of a multi-million pound treatment centre for pensioners with mental health problems will never be used, the Weston & Somerset Mercury can reveal
PART of a multi-million pound treatment centre for pensioners with mental health problems will never be used, the Weston & Somerset Mercury can reveal.The £6million unit being built by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) on the site of Weston General Hospital was due to provide 15-bed and 10-bed wards. But because finance chiefs failed to put £560,000 in the budget there is no money to staff the 10-bed facility. This means the AWP will not be able to treat elderly people with illnesses such as dementia as planned.The mental health organisation only set aside enough cash for two wards, one large 25-bed ward plus an existing facility, Rowan Ward, at the hospital.The problem arose when the new facility was developed as two separate wards split into 10 and 15 bed units. Staffing costs for the two smaller wards would have been higher than for one larger one.An AWP statement said: "The revenue gap has arisen because the financial model developed for the project assumed the service would be developed over two wards. "However, the design of the units meant the service was developed over three wards."The AWP, which has financed the building through a private finance initiative (PFI), is due to repay £200,000 a year for 30 years. This means it will be paying millions of pounds for a ward it will never use.The building, which is due to open in June, was designed to provide an extra 25 beds for older people with mental illnesses. It has been built next to the existing Long Fox unit at the hospital in Grange Road.The 15-unit ward will open as planned to provide treatment for those with problems such as depression.As a temporary measure, the vacant ward will take current patients from Rowan Ward while it is being refurbished this summer.After that, the AWP has no plans for the facility. It is asking other organisations such as North Somerset Primary Care Trust for suggestions about what to do with the ward.AWP North Somerset locality manager David Colyer said: "We would like to apologise to service users, carers, staff and partner organisations for this problem. "This has been a challenging time.