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Joint bid to double number of beds for mental health patients in Sussex
A mental health trust is to almost double its bed numbers after forming a unique partnership with a private care provider.
Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has announced an agreement with health care firm Care UK which is the first of its kind in the country.
Unions, however, warned that their members feared that the move marked “the thin end of a privatisation wedge”.
As part of the new deal the organisations will take over the running of a new hospital in Gosport, Hampshire, from private health care firm Orchard Portman at a cost of £8 million.
The new agreement also includes the construction of a new 24-bed home in Horsham in a move the trust said was designed to meet a need for more rehabilitation and recovery-based care for people with mental health conditions.
The schemes will increase bed capacity within the trust from 77 recovery and rehabilitation places to 133 vacancies.
Rehabilitation mental hospital Nelson House in Gosport opened in May last year at a cost of £5 million and already takes NHS patients.
The new partnership will now take over the running of the facility and the existing staff.
The 24-people home in Crawley Road, Horsham, will allow people recently discharged from hospital to live independently, supported by staff.
A UNISON spokesman said the trust had failed to learn lessons from a previous deal with 2e2.
The trust signed a £40 million agreement last year but 2e2 went into administration last month.
The spokesman added: “We would ask why the trust can’t set up these services itself with funding from the local commissioners.”
Lisa Rodrigues, the chief executive of Sussex Partnership, said: “This new arrangement with Care UK means we will be able to support more people and give them hope for the future.”
A Sussex Partnership spokesman said: “It’s important to consider that increasingly we provide services outside Sussex anyway, for example children’s mental health services across Hampshire, Sussex, Kent and Medway, where we can bring value and help people to recover their mental wellbeing.
“This is less about sending Sussex patients out of county, more about ensuring that existing facilities for NHS patients, in this case using Nelson House, are maintained and continued.”
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