Consultation starts as psychiatric unit set to move from Eastbourne to Hailsham or Bexhill

Plans to move psychiatric services from Eastbourne DGH to Hailsham or open a state-of-the-art mental health campus in Bexhill are out for consultation.

Eastbourne DGH
Eastbourne DGH

The board of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services across Sussex, has given the go ahead to the next stage of a project intended to change the way adult inpatient mental health services are run in East Sussex.

The project would see the Department of Psychiatry, based at the DGH, possibly replaced with a new state-of-the-art facility, which could potentially be expanded to provide all of the county’s inpatient mental health services in a single location.

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The programme comes as the trust looks to move away from providing mental health beds in dormitories - a practice the government wants to phase out by March 2024.

The consultation started on Monday (June 14) for a 12 week period.

The proposals, say health officials, have been developed over many months by NHS East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (Sussex Partnership) and followed input from service users, carers and their representatives, including Healthwatch East Sussex, as well as GPs, hospital doctors and staff.

The proposals indicate services could be relocated to a greenfield site next to Mount View Street, North East Bexhill, Bexhill-on-Sea, or a site around Amberstone Hospital, near Hailsham

The Bexhill site is the preferred option. However, a alternative site at Amberstone Hospital near Hailsham has not yet been taken off the table.

If approved, this would be the first phase towards a potential long-term vision to create a leading centre for a range of mental health services on a single ‘campus’, which could, over time, address all mental health inpatient needs in East Sussex. This first phase will be completed by March 2024.

Sussex Partnership chief executive Samantha Allen said, “While we work hard to make sure our patients receive the right quality of care, we know we need to make bigger improvements to deliver that care to an even higher standards in the future. Our proposal will help us to achieve this.

“The staged approach we are proposing will also give us the opportunity to benefit from national funding to remove all out-dated dormitory accommodation, such as that found in the Department of Psychiatry, and replace it with individual bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms.”

Dr David Warden, the clinical chair of NHS East Sussex CCG’s governing body, said, “We have developed these proposals to make sure we lead the way in providing the best mental health care and support possible for local people.

“They not only address the immediate challenges we have with the facilities at the Department of Psychiatry but are also the first stage towards achieving our long-term vision to meet the needs of our patients for many years to come. We look forward to hearing from people during the next 12 weeks so we can work with them to help deliver the best possible care.”

People can give their feedback on the consultation in a number of ways – all the details can be found at

Speaking at a board meeting held on May 19, the trust’s chief financial officer Sally Flint said, “We’ve been working really closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement on this and we have successfully completed stages one and two of their assurance process. And in the context of the eradicating dormitories programme we have now secured £46.7m to replace the department of psychiatry at the DGH, which would be part of a longer term phased development to re-provide all of the inpatient stock on to a single site. We’ve met with NHS Capital because we needed to give the assurance that one, we could complete the scheme within the level of funding, but also to complete the scheme by March 2024.”