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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 October 2005, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
Cash for mental health hospitals
Image of a depressed man
Mental health facilities are among the oldest in the NHS
An extra 130m will be spent on upgrading mental health hospitals and facilities, the government has announced.

Regional health bosses will be given the money next year to invest in ageing wards and intensive care units.

Mental health facilities are among the oldest in the NHS with facilities so poor in some areas that patients have to be assessed in police stations.

Campaigners said the money was desperately needed.

Over a third of psychiatric intensive care units failed an audit last year, many for a lack of ensuite facilities or being too crowded.

This is a step in the right direction, but it must be remembered there is still a very long way to go
Sophie Corlett, of Mind

A half of units did not have safe facilities to assess people brought in under mental health legislation, meaning patients were often taken to police stations for an initial assessment.

A third of mental health facilities pre-date 1948, compared to less than a fifth of other NHS buildings.

Health Minister Rosie Winterton said: "We have been working to improve mental health services but we know that the mental health estate needs refurbishment."

She added the money would help "ensure that patients are treated in a safe and therapeutic environment".

Sophie Corlett, director of policy at Mind, said: "We hope that the investment will reach all parts of the country, including rural areas.

"This is a step in the right direction, but it must be remembered there is still a very long way to go."

Sane chief executive Marjorie Wallace said conditions in mental health facilties were "squalid and depressing".

"While many mental health trusts are facing severe financial crisis and staff are leaving, we question how the new money will make the necessary and vital difference."


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