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Mental health units: single rooms to replace ‘outdated’ dormitories

RCN welcomes decision to upgrade facilities in England, but says staffing must be prioritised
Picture shows someone seen from behind sitting on a bed and looking out of a window

RCN welcomes decision to upgrade facilities in England, but says staffing must be prioritised

Picture: iStock

A decision to replace dormitory accommodation in mental health facilities in England with ensuite rooms has been welcomed by the RCN.

The government says it will spend more than 400 million over the next four years turning dormitories into multiple single ensuite rooms to improve the safety and dignity of patients.

Outdated dormitory facilities

Announcing the funding, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: By eradicating outdated and unsuitable dormitories across England we can ensure those with mental illness are given the safety, privacy and dignity they deserve.

Not only will the new single rooms improve the individual care we can offer patients, they will

RCN welcomes decision to upgrade facilities in England, but says staffing must be prioritised

Picture: iStock

A decision to replace dormitory accommodation in mental health facilities in England with ensuite rooms has been welcomed by the RCN.

The government says it will spend more than £400 million over the next four years turning dormitories into multiple single ensuite rooms to improve the safety and dignity of patients.

‘Outdated’ dormitory facilities

Announcing the funding, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘By eradicating outdated and unsuitable dormitories across England we can ensure those with mental illness are given the safety, privacy and dignity they deserve.

‘Not only will the new single rooms improve the individual care we can offer patients, they will provide a better environment for our hardworking staff too.’

RCN deputy director of nursing
Jude Diggins

RCN deputy director of nursing Jude Diggins welcomed the announcement, but said more needdto be done to improve the working lives of mental health nurses.

Prioritise staffing levels for patient safety

‘These changes will clearly go some way to keeping patients and staff safer,’ she said.

‘The best way to ensure these new facilities properly benefit people with mental health problems is to prioritise staffing levels for safe and effective care and address the long-term nursing vacancies in the mental health sector.’

The latest NHS data show there were 9,924 full-time equivalent mental health nursing vacancies in the NHS in England in June 2020.

The government also announced £2 million in funding for research into the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and well-being of three at-risk groups: healthcare workers, children and young people, and those with serious mental health problems.


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