Psychiatric unit opens next year

Oxford Mail: Interim chief operating officer Yvonne Taylor and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust chairman Martin Howell. Picture: Ric Mellis Buy this photo Interim chief operating officer Yvonne Taylor and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust chairman Martin Howell. Picture: Ric Mellis

AN £11M psychiatric unit to deal with young people will take in its first patients in the new year.

The revamped Highfield Unit, based at Warneford Hospital in Oxford, will provide inpatient mental health services for young people aged 11 to 18 with a range of conditions, from emotional disorders, psychoses, to eating disorders.

It replaces the previous Highfield unit on the same site, with redevelopment work completed last month, after a two year construction programme.

Staff, inpatients at the current Highfield Unit, and those who have played a role in creating the new unit attended a special event to celebrate the completion at the end of November. The event included a gig, headlined by Cowley folk band Stornoway.

The chairman of Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Martin Howell, opened the event.

He said: “I think everyone who has seen it has been struck by just what an impressive unit the new Highfield Unit Oxford is. It will be playing a crucial role in helping young people with acute mental health needs rebuild their lives in the years, indeed decades, to come.

“It’s great that so many musicians share our belief that it’s important to acknowledge the difficulties faced by these young people and to celebrate the completion of a unit that offers them the very best chance of getting better.”

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Consultant psychiatrist Rami El-Shirbiny is also the frontman of Rami and the Talc Daemons, who played a set.

He said: “I think it’s really important to have a unit like the Highfield because it’s crucial to set up young people so they can re-enter the community and lead normal lives. I felt privileged to play as we celebrated the new unit.”

Doctors said the Highfield Unit Oxford, built on a century-old cricket ground, would offer unrivalled care. It will provide psychological support services and an intensive care unit for patients that may require specialist one-to-one psychiatric support for short periods.

The previous facility was an outdated 1970’s building no longer suitable to provide many modern services.

In 2009 the centre won an 11th hour bid for £4m in Government funding allocated for the project when councillors rejected pleas by cricketers to not build on the site.

The official opening ceremony of the hospital will take place in January.

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