Proposals to change older people’s mental health services in Southampton: A message from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

3 October 2023

Western Community Hospital.jpgSouthern Health NHS Foundation Trust is the NHS organisation which runs most of the mental health services for adults in Southampton and Hampshire. This includes the wards for older people’s mental health at the Western Hospital. We are proposing to make some changes to these services and are keen to hear the views of local people and organisations who might be affected.

Older people’s mental health is separated into services for people with dementia, and services for older people with other types of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and psychosis.

For the last couple of years we have invested in improving our hospitals across our older people’s mental health inpatient services in Hampshire, such that we have a network of high quality mental health facilities serving the entire Hampshire and Southampton populations. This includes services both for people with dementia and other mental health conditions. During this time, whilst improvements have been carried out, we have comfortably managed the demand for dementia care with a reduced number of beds.

The final stage of this is the proposed development at the Western Hospital, to combine the space of Beaulieu and Berrywood Ward for mental health care. Together with work being carried out by Solent NHS Trust, this represents a significant investment in the Western Hospital to provide high quality inpatient services in Southampton.

With a growing elderly population, more people will be impacted by dementia in the coming years, this is likely to be more sharply felt in Hampshire, with a more elderly population. Most dementia beds in Southampton are typically in use to support Hampshire residents, rather than people from the city itself. There is a greater need in Southampton for mental health beds for people with other mental health conditions, rather than dementia.

That is why we propose to provide dementia beds in our Hampshire hospitals (Basingstoke and Gosport), and provide beds for people with other mental health conditions at the Western Hospital in Southampton.

What this would mean:

  • Creating a new, larger, and improved ward environment for older people with mental health needs other than dementia, at the Western Hospital
  • Maintaining the reduced overall number of dementia beds across Southampton and Hampshire, recognising that we are able to support the demand for this type of care from our current, reduced number of beds
  • For the small number of people in Southampton who require specialised inpatient care for dementia, this care would be provided at high quality hospitals in Gosport or Basingstoke.

We recognise that some people who live in Southampton or the surrounding area may need to travel further to visit loved ones under these proposals. This might be worrying or difficult for some people and we want to make it as straightforward as possible. That is why, if any Southampton residents need to travel further from home to visit loved ones in our dementia beds under these proposals, we will offer ‘no quibble’ support to help with transport costs or other challenges. We will also make sure there is as much flexibility with visiting times at our hospitals, and that there are alternative ways to stay in touch with family, to minimise the impact for anyone who needs to travel further to visit loved ones.

We are constantly looking at the current and future demand for care. Should the need arise to increase the number of either type of mental beds in the years ahead, we have the ability to adapt our bed numbers accordingly.

Over the last couple of months we have been talking with our staff and families of people using the dementia beds at the Western to inform them of the proposals and seek their views. We have also begun to speak with groups and communities in Southampton to seek their views. We want to gather views of as many people as possible who may be impacted by these proposals.

If you would like to talk about these proposals, have any questions concerns or ideas, please get in touch with Dawn or Tom:

Dawn Buck, Deputy Director of Patient Experience and Engagement:
Tom Westbury, Associate Director of Communications:


Accessibility tools

Return to header