Patients and staff to benefit from £1.2 million programme to improve mental health hospitals

Mental health hospitals in England are to be transformed for the benefit of patients, relatives and front-line staff in a new phase of The King's Fund's Enhancing the Healing Environment programme.

The Health Minister Rosie Winterton MP today announced that mental health and learning disability service providers from each of the 23 strategic health authorities outside London will take part in a £1,275,000 programme to enable nurse-led teams to transform areas used by patients.

The projects, which are funded by the Department of Health, are likely to range from refurbishing corridors, waiting areas and wards to creating gardens and quiet spaces. Each project has to physically improve an area used by patients and must be run by a nurse-led, multi-disciplinary team, working in partnership with patients. As well as a project grant, the funding will provide more than 100 places on a King's Fund programme for nurses, estates staff and patients to develop their leadership skills and give them the practical knowledge they will need to make their project a success.

Speaking today at a King's Fund event to mark the launch of the new scheme, Health Minister Rosie Winterton MP said:

'Our day to day surroundings affect us all, especially when we are not in full health and at our most vulnerable. The results of the Enhancing the Healing Environment projects show how small changes can have a positive impact that enriches the surroundings dramatically, especially in the mental health trusts that tend to have older sites. This scheme fits well with other initiatives to ensure that staff can enhance their patients' surroundings in the best possible way.'

This is the latest phase in a scheme that has already had a dramatic impact on patients and professionals since it started in 2001. An evaluation of the projects in London revealed significant long-term benefits including:

  • faster recuperation rates for patients
  • the potential to reduce aggressive behaviour by patients and relatives towards staff
  • reductions in vandalism
  • improvements in staff recruitment and retention rates

The King's Fund's chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'We know that the environment where you are treated makes a difference to how you feel and in some cases how quickly you recover. For too long mental health facilities were neglected and this programme is just one sign that things are changing for the better. We believe this will make a real difference both to patients and to the staff who take part. Earlier schemes have provided patients with better places in which to heal, relatives with a more welcoming environment and made staff feel more empowered'

Find out more about our Enhancing the Healing Environment programme

Notes to editors: 

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact the King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  2. The following service providers are taking part in the scheme: Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust; Coventry Teaching Primary Care Trust; Derbyshire Mental Health Services NHS Trust; Devon Partnership NHS Trust; East Sussex County Healthcare NHS Trust; Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust; Milton Keynes Primary Care Trust; North Dorset Primary Care Trust; Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust; Sandwell Mental Health NHS and Social Care Trust; South Essex Partnership NHS Trust; West Kent NHS and Social Care Trust; Barnsley NHS Primary Care Trust; Bolton, Salford & Trafford Mental Health NHS Trust; Bradford District Care Trust; Calderstones NHS Trust; Cheshire & Wirral Partnership NHS Trust; Doncaster and South Humber Healthcare NHS Trust; Leeds Mental Health Teaching NHS Trust; North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust; Northgate and Prudhoe NHS Trust; Pennine Care NHS Trust; Selby and York Primary Care Trust.
  3. The King's Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through funding. We are a major resource to people working in health and social care, offering leadership development programmes; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.