Uncertainty over go-ahead for unit for male offenders in west Scotland

One of four new mental health units aimed at tackling the shortage of medium-secure facilities in Scotland looks likely to be
scrapped following a review by health chiefs.

A source close to the review of the Willowburn House development, at Dykebar Hospital in Paisley, has told Community Care the project will not go ahead because managers believe a unit at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow, due to be completed next March,
will provide enough beds for the West of Scotland.

The £10m Dykebar scheme was set to provide 30 beds for male offenders with mental health problems and was due to be completed in late 2007. Health chiefs have already spent substantial sums of money on planning and consulting on the unit.

In June, NHS Greater Glasgow, which inherited the project from NHS Argyll & Clyde health board when it was disbanded in April, said it would reassess the project.

The lack of medium-secure units has led to concerns that people are being detained at Scotland’s special hospital, Carstairs, despite them not requiring its high level of security.

Under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003, patients assessed as not needing high-security care at Carstairs can challenge health boards if they fail to place them in an appropriate setting.

An NHS Greater Glasgow spokesperson admitted it could scrap the Dykebar scheme but said the review had yet to make a final decision and its findings would be consulted on next spring, whatever it proposed.

As an interim measure, the Scottish executive has allowed patients from all over the West of Scotland to be treated at the 74-bed Stobhill unit. Initial assessments suggested three patients from Argyll & Clyde would be transferred.

Further information
NHS Argyll & Clyde

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