Broadland Council has granted approval for the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) to construct five new mental health wards at Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich, England.

According to project director Peter Burton, 15 additional beds could significantly impact the number of patients treated at a local hospital.

During a Broadland Council planning committee meeting, planning officer Matthew Rook informed councillors that the Hellesdon Hospital project was at its initial stage, with design and layout to be agreed later.

The plans involve five 16-bed non-secure wards, which would increase the site from 65 to 80 beds.

Burton said: “The NSFT submitted a bid to the NHS for a Hellesdon ward rebuild in July 2018, which was approved in August 2019.”

The current site is said to feature narrow and poorly lit corridors, as well as limited access to outside spaces, leading to ‘negative feedback’.

Burton added: “A further driver for the application is the capacity of the whole service and its current dependence on out of area beds and private sector placements.”

Apart from offering a new therapeutic setting, the new wards are intended to allow easy work access for staff to support recovery of patients.

Conservative councillor John Fisher noted: “There is a need to expand units and not send patients out of county – both for expense, convenience and visiting.”

The committee unanimously voted in favour of the application.

Earlier this month, the UK Government announced investment in the universities of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow and Heriot-Watt to transform its National Health Service (NHS) healthcare delivery.