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Opening of new £7m specialist mental health unit for young people

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A plaque was unveiled by care minister Caroline Dinenage with New Forest East MP Julian Lewis
A plaque was unveiled by care minister Caroline Dinenage with New Forest East MP Julian Lewis

A NEW specialist mental health unit for young people has been officially opened after a £7m refurbishment.

The 14-bed facility, Austen House, formally known as Woodhaven, is located on the edge of the New Forest at Tatchbury Mount, near Totton, and will provide support to children and young people with specialist mental health needs in the south and beyond.

As the only NHS unit of its kind in the region, the opening of the hospital means youngsters and their families will not have to travel hundreds of miles to receive the support they need.

Opened on Monday by care minister Caroline Dinenage, Austen House was co-designed and named after Hampshire novelist Jane Austen by the young people who will be using the service.

Austen House at Tatchbury Mount was revamped at a cost of £7m
Austen House at Tatchbury Mount was revamped at a cost of £7m

Mrs Dinenage, MP for Gosport, said: “It’s so important for young people who need mental health support to receive it close to their loved ones, without the need for them to travel long distances.

“Austen House will provide an invaluable new service for young people in the South of England and support them to recover and return home.

“Our children’s mental health is a key priority and we are transforming services through the NHS Long Term Plan so more young people can access the support they need – backed by an extra £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24.”

As part of the ceremony, a plaque dedicated to the young people who helped design and name the unit was unveiled to guests.

Attendees included Southern Health CEO Nick Broughton, New Forest East MP Julian Lewis, family members of the youngsters who will be using the unit, Southern Health staff, local councillors and national mental health commissioners from NHS England.

Mr Broughton said: “No one should have to travel far to receive the vital care they need, especially young people, and families and carers should not have to travel long distances to visit loved ones.

"I am delighted that Austen House will be able to provide high-quality specialist mental health support to young people in a safe and comfortable environment, closer to home.”

Dr Lewis added: “It is absolutely marvellous both to see the facility having been rebuilt so professionally and having seen the specialised capacity for the young people to be augmented in this way.

"I want to say congratulations to the whole team and we are proud to have this facility here in the New Forest.”

The MP recently warned in the House of Commons that a lack of mental health beds meant the service was "overflowing" locally.

The newly refurbished facility boasts state-of-the-art education facilities, an art studio, music room, gym and sensory room. The unit also has an in-house shop which will be run by the youngsters, social areas with a pool table and an outside multi-use games area.

Mayura Deshpande, clinical director for specialist services said: “On a national and local level, Austen House will benefit so many young people’s lives.

“The facilities available at the hospital are fantastic and will help ensure that our staff can give the best support, individualised care and equip them with the tools and skills they will need when they return back to the community.”

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