Improving mental health services in East Sussex

Following approval from the Joint Committee of the NHS Sussex CCGs and the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Board of Directors, the East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) today (Thursday 2 December) endorsed our proposal to move mental health inpatient services at the Department of Psychiatry in Eastbourne to a new hospital on a site in Bexhill.

This was the final step in endorsing our proposals, following recent approval by the relevant governing bodies, and we can now start the implementation phase. The new hospital will be built on a site in Mount View Street, North East Bexhill, and will be completed by March 2024, at a cost of £46.7 million.

This means that, within three years, we will have a state-of-the-art hospital to replace the Department of Psychiatry which will provide a modern and improved therapeutic environment which will benefit both patients and staff.

It also provides the foundation for completing our long-term vision to establish a leading centre for mental health services in East Sussex which we believe will enable us to produce outstanding patient outcomes as well as keep and attract the best staff.

Please find attached to this email a more detailed summary of the proposals, the public consultation and the final outcomes. All relevant documents about the public consultation can be found under consultation findings below.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been involved with developing our proposals so far and all those who contributed to the consultation and engagement activity which has taken place over the last year or so. However, engagement with our local communities does not stop here. We will be involving as many of you in the next phase of the Programme so you can have a real opportunity to have your say in what the final building will look like. More details of how to be involved will follow soon.

Consultation findings

All responses have been independently analysed, providing us with valuable feedback and input that was used to inform this Decision-Making Business Case (DMBC). The feedback fundamentally informed the final proposals which we believe will serve the needs of the local community to effectively deliver this first phase of our vision for mental health services across East Sussex.

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