Public consultation on improving mental health services in East Sussex ends

The local NHS would like to say a big thank you to everyone that has taken part in its public consultation about proposals to improve the quality and safety of mental health inpatient services across East Sussex.

The consultation started for 12 weeks on Monday 14 June and closed on Monday 6 September.

The proposals are to move inpatient services based at the Department of Psychiatry in Eastbourne District General Hospital to new facilities to be built on a different site.

These services could be relocated to a greenfield site next to Mount View Street, North East Bexhill, Bexhill-on-Sea, or a site around Amberstone Hospital, near Hailsham. The Bexhill site is the preferred option.

If approved, this would be the first phase towards a potential long-term vision to create a leading centre for a range of mental health services on a single ‘campus’, which could, over time, address all mental health inpatient needs in East Sussex.

Hundreds of people, including service users, carers and their families, as well as a wide range of organisations, including those representing those with protect characteristics, have taken part in the consultation.

Responses were gathered through a range of methods, including an online and printed questionnaire, workshops, focus groups, public meetings, one-to-one interviews and public pop-up stalls.

Programme Director, Paula Kirkland, said: “We have had full and very considered responses to the consultation, with invaluable feedback from a wide variety of individuals and interested organisations.

“Importantly, we have heard from service users, carers and family members, interested organisations and, in particular, those who are seldom heard or may face additional challenges in using mental health services. We will now use the findings to develop our final proposals.”

The responses are being collated and analysed by an independent social research organisation and they will produce a final report during October.

This will then be used to help develop final proposals which will be considered by the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s Board of Directors, the East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body and the East Sussex Health Oversight and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) in November.

If the final proposals are approved by these bodies, implementation will begin in January next year.

The findings report, alongside all other supporting material, will be published here in due course.

Where affected services are based
Current adults and older people's inpatient mental health services in East Sussex

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Potential options for a new facilities to be built on a different site
Potential options for a new facilities to be built on a different site

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Frequently asked questions

14 June 2021

New building

  1. Will this announcement mean you will be building a new hospital in East Sussex?

Once the consultation is complete, we will use the feedback we receive to develop our final proposals. One outcome could be that we would build a new hospital on either our preferred site in Bexhill-on-Sea or the alternative site near Hailsham.

If this is the outcome of the consultation, we will continue to engage with people to seek their views on how any new hospital could best support and care for the people of Sussex once it has been built.

But it is important to stress that nothing has yet been decided.

  1. How much will this hospital cost?

We propose to move the Department of Psychiatry based at Eastbourne District General Hospital on to a new site. This would be the first phase of a longer-term vision for all our inpatient mental health services in East Sussex.

This proposal means we would be able to benefit from national funding aimed at eradicating out-dated dormitory accommodation and replace it with individual bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms for all service users.

The Department of Psychiatry currently has dormitory accommodation and Sussex Partnership is one of five NHS Trusts nationally with the largest number of patients still being treated in dormitories.

NHS England and NHS Improvement has earmarked £46.7 million to enable Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to complete this first phase by the end of March 2024, if a decision is made to go ahead following consultation.

  1. Why can’t you simply refurbish the existing building at the Department of Psychiatry?

We examined the possibility of refurbishing the Department of Psychiatry during our early involvement activity with all stakeholders, including service users and staff. This period of activity showed clear support for a new ‘campus’ site and opposition to refurbishing existing sites.

Refurbishing existing sites, especially the Department of Psychiatry, was not seen by the people we have engaged with so far as sustainable in the long run nor good value for money. We also had feedback that it would cause significant disruption to patients, visitors and staff and would mean we could not meet the long-term needs of patients in East Sussex.

In addition, the ward space currently making up the Department of Psychiatry will play an important part in the future plans of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT).

Our vision

  1. What is the long-term vision and how long will it take to achieve?

Our long-term vision, developed with the help of a range of stakeholders including service users, carers and their representatives, is to create new modern facilities which would provide care for a range of mental health inpatient needs – on a single site – for the people of East Sussex.

Our vision for a ‘campus’ approach would, over time, address all our inpatient needs. We anticipate that the ‘campus’ can be delivered in stages over a number of years and take advantage of funding as it becomes available. There is no set time for this programme but we would anticipate that it could take between five and 10 years.

  1. Does this mean that other services across East Sussex will close down?

Our proposal is to move the services currently at Department of Psychiatry on to a new site, either in North East Bexhill or near Hailsham. This enables us to benefit from national funding to eradicate dormitory accommodation, which can be found at the Department of Psychiatry.

There are no immediate plans to close any other inpatient mental health services across East Sussex. However, our long-term vision is to create a single site ‘campus’  to cater for all our mental health inpatient needs. We aim to develop this vision over the coming years as funding opportunities arise. All future proposals may be subject to further public consultation before any final decisions are made.


  1. What will this proposal mean for staff currently based at the Department of Psychiatry?

There are about 165 members of staff, including acute and facilities staff, currently working at the Department of Psychiatry. We expect they would all transfer to the new facilities, or transfer to other services, depending on the results of staff consultations at the relevant time. We do not anticipate any redundancies.

In addition to this, we expect that the new facilities – tied in with the longer-term vision for our services – would enable us to attract and keep the best staff as they would become a leading centre for mental health services.

Transport and travel

  1. Do these proposals mean that patients and carers who currently use the Department of Psychiatry will have to travel further to be treated and visit their families and friends?

We know that both our site options may mean that some people may need to travel further if they need inpatient care, or visit those being treated in inpatient services. However, this is already the case as patients receiving care at the Department of Psychiatry come from areas across Sussex so journeys of varying length are inevitable depending on where people live.

During 2019/20, of the 668 people who were treated as inpatients in the Department of Psychiatry, 337 were from East Sussex and the remaining 331 were from other areas such as West Sussex and Brighton and Hove. We have analysed how people’s travel may be affected. Details of this analysis can be found in the pre-consultation business case.

Background documents
  1. Working with you to improve mental health in East Sussex: consultation document
  2. Pre-consultation business case
  3. Equality and health inequalities impact assessment
  4. Quality impact assessment
  5. Benefits realisation plan
  6. Transport accessibility analysis
  7. New community mental health services model
  8. Communications and involvement strategy and plan
  9. Early Involvement Programme report of findings