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Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust opens Austen House

30 September 2019

New unit Austen House opens!


Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust officially opened Austen House, a low secure, forensic hospital that provides vital support for children and young people with specialist mental health needs, in the South of England and beyond.

Austen House (formally Woodhaven) is based at Tatchbury Mount on the edge of the New Forest. The new 14 bedded hospital has undergone a seven million pound refurbishment and will support some of the most vulnerable young people in society.

There is currently a national shortage of inpatient beds for children and young people needing specialist metal health care so the beds at Austen House will make a significant contribution to the availability of low secure care across the UK. As the only NHS unit of its kind in the South region, Austen House means young people and their families will not have to travel hundreds of miles to receive the vital support they need. Currently young people (and their families) have to travel as far as Manchester to receive care.

Nick Broughton, Chief Executive, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust says,

“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.”

Austen House was co-designed and named, after the famous literacy author Jane Austen, by the young people who will be using the service. The newly refurbished hospital now boasts state of the art education facilities, a new art studio, music room, gym and sensory room. The unit also has an in-house shop that will be run by the young people, social areas with a pool table and an outside multi-use games area. There are also dedicated rooms for young people to receive the vital support they need and private areas for families and carers to be with their loved ones.

Mayura Deshpande, Clinical Director for Specialist Services, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, says,

“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”

Caroline Dinenage MP, in her role as Minister of State for Care, and Nick Broughton Chief, Executive of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, will be opening the unit by the unveiling of plaque, at a private event with special guests including, his Rt Hons Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East, family members of the young people who will be supporting the unit, Southern Health staff, local councillors and national mental health commissioners from NHS England. 

Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage 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.”

Southern Heath’s Estates Team and Kier Construction Ltd have been responsible for the building of Austen House for the past year. Originally, due to open November 2019, the refurbishment has been completed a month earlier than planned. 

Trevor White, Operations Director, Kier Construction – Southern says,

‘’We are extremely pleased to have been involved with the refurbishment of Austen House for Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and we are delighted that works were completed ahead of schedule. Since the start of the project, we have developed a strong working relationship with the Trust that has been pivotal to the successful delivery of this high specification refurbishment.’’

Austen House will complement the existing medium secure unit, Bluebird House, which is on the same site at Tatchbury Mount. It will provide a much needed and valuable step-down care for patients and support them with rehabilitation so they can return to the community.

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