Duchess of Northumberland opens new Sycamore unit at Northgate Park hospital in Morpeth
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Sycamore is a state-of-the-art secure facility at Northgate Park which looks after men with a mental illness, learning disability or personality disorder and who have come into contact with the criminal justice system. It contains 72 beds across six wards.
Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), a provider of mental health and disability services, began redeveloping the Northgate hospital site in 2020, as the existing buildings – some of which dated back to the 1960s – were no longer fit for purpose and were unable to be adapted.
Patients moved into the new unit in late October. The successful opening is the result of the hard work and dedication of many hundreds of staff.
The Duchess, who toured the building and met with staff, said: “I know what will have gone into a building like this and that no one person will be responsible for this – it is a team effort.
“Thank you to absolutely everyone for the role you’ve played in building this facility.”
The unit has been carefully designed to the highest standards, equipped with cutting-edge technology and a variety of spaces to ensure that patients receive the best possible care. These purpose-built spaces include an education suite, art rooms, sport and exercise facilities, a workshop for woodwork and gardens.
James Duncan, CNTW chief executive, said: “I’ve been involved in many building projects in my time but this has been the most challenging, with work going on through the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m immensely proud of this facility, which will support some of the most vulnerable and forgotten people in society. For people deprived of their freedom, it’s so important that we create an environment where people feel safe and can have a sense of belonging until the next step on their journey.”
The new building features imagery of local wildlife, plants and landscapes throughout, with artwork created by York-based artist Dan Savage.
Photographs taken by patients of North East landscapes have also been used to decorate fences and internal privacy screens.