THE first phase of a new private hospital for adults with mental illness and those with learning difficulties has officially begun in Ebbw Vale.
St Luke’s Hospital Group celebrated the opening of Willow House, at the former Ebbw Vale Hospital site, by giving local politicians and clergymen a guided tour of the new facilities.
Group medical directors, Dr Chuma Igbokwe and Dr Obi Mbamali, were on hand to welcome visitors and answer questions while the Bishop of Monmouth, the Right Rev Dominic Walker, spoke at the ceremony and cut a ribbon to declare the facilities open.
Guests included Blaenau Gwent deputy mayor Jenny Morgan, Dai Davies MP, Trish Law AM, Councillor Mostyn Lewis and the Rev David Roberts from Nevill Hall Hospital.
Dr Obi welcomed visitors and said that St Luke’s of Ebbw Vale was here to stay as part of the community and added he hoped they would no longer be regarded as “strangers”. He said facilities for caring for the mentally infirm were needed in the area and that 90 per cent of staff were from the locality.
Ebbw Vale will be the first St Luke’s Hospital Group project in Wales.
The group originated in Essex. Willow House will cater for 12 adults with mental health problems who are currently in existing NHS facilities but require longer-term care.
The other two phases, Beech House (for adults requiring short-term stay) and Oak Unit (for adults with learning difficulties, mental health problems or behavioural difficulties needing medium to long-term stay) are expected to be up and running within three months of the first unit’s completion.
The conversion of the building into a private facility is believed to have cost in the region of £3.5m.
The hospital will not be registered to take in drug addicts or sex offenders, and wards will be locked, although some patients will be allowed to mix with the community under staff supervision.
The Rev Geoff Waggett, who was also present, said: “I’m very pleased to see the first phase open and was struck by the very warm atmosphere.”
[Story re-posted from 15/02/08]