A NEW multimillion-pound mental health development will start within months, it has been announced.
Planning persmission has now been granted for work costing between £6million and £8million at Cherry Knowle Hospital, in Ryhope.
The development will see a 122-bed hospital built at the site.
As reported in the Echo last week, plans are also due to go ahead for a 24-bed unit at Monkwearmouth Hospital for dementia patients from Sunderland and South Tyneside.
Announcing the news, Jules Preston, chairman of the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The need to improve mental health facilities for people living in Sunderland and South Tyneside has long been recognised, therefore this is a tremendous step forward towards our aim of providing first-class care in first-class accommodation for service users and our staff.”
Improvements at Ryhope will include a 14-bed psychiatric intensive care unit, as well as six 18-bed wards.
An existing unit will be kept open, taking the total capacity at Cherry Knowle to 137 beds.
Monkwearmouth’s new building will have two 12-bed wards to care for those suffering from debilitating dementia.
The work is still subject to final approval by Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts.
A turf-cutting ceremony is set to take place at the Ryhope development this summer, when construction will get under way on the new buildings.
It is hoped the work on the Ryhope site will be completed by 2014.
Demolition of the existing Monkwearmouth facility is scheduled for June, with work expected to start in August this year.
Trust chiefs expect it to be finished by October 2013.