New £20m mental health inpatient unit to open in Leeds amid national crisis over bed shortages for children and young people

A new £20m mental health inpatient unit for people aged between 13 and 18 will open its doors for the first time in Leeds this week.

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 7:48 am

Red Kite View is a purpose-built, two-storey facility located on the old St Mary’s Hospital site in Armley and will be managed by the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT).

It will have 22 beds, comprising 16 on a general ward and six that are dedicated to a new Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

Red Kite replaces the current inpatient facility at Little Woodhouse Hall, in Woodhouse, which had eight beds and increases the regional bed capacity by 14. This is part of a drive to eliminate out-of-area placements for young people who need an inpatient admission but who can’t get a bed near where they live.

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The Trust has recruited around 40 people from the Armley and Lower Wortley areas of Leeds as part of a drive to reduce unemployment in these areas.

Last month, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported on the story of Milly Whitley who was facing her second Christmas away from her family as the only bed available to treat her eating disorder is Sheffield and she has been hospitalised there for the last 15 months. Her family have been campaigning for better facilities closer to home.

He said: "If she was in Leeds it would be easier as a family to manage and I am certain it would have a positive impact on her mentally to be nearer to home without a doubt.”

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Red Kite's two main wards will be staffed by a 100-strong team, three times the size of the previous one at Little Woodhouse Hall, and is made up of nurses, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, teachers and a wide range of allied health professionals and non-clinical support staff.

Red Kite View is a new £20m purpose-built facility in Armley, Leeds.

In addition to the wards, Red Kite will have a reception, private meeting rooms, en-suite bedrooms, lounges, kitchen and dining spaces, an onsite kitchen where meals for patients are made fresh each day, family therapy rooms, recreation rooms and an education suite.

Known as the Starling Suite, it will have eight specialist teachers who will help young people continue their studies and work with their mainstream schools to fill in any gaps in learning as well as help patients have education or training pathways set up for when they leave Red Kite.

At an opening event on Tuesday, Dawn Hanwell, deputy chief executive at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT), said: "When we started this journey, it was in the context of a national crisis of the amount children and young people beds for mental health - not only the availability but that they were in the wrong place.

"People from West Yorkshire were travelling incredibly long distances to get care away from homes and families. The whole purpose of developing this was to bring care closer to home and to create the right number of beds.

"I am really pleased and proud to have been the senior officer for this fantastic project."

Red Kite View will initially open to five young people who will transfer from Little Woodhouse Hall on Thursday.

Young people who have been placed out of area or who might be in other settings will then be repatriated back to Leeds.

After this, there will be a phased approach to filling the rest of the bed spaces and it is intended that the unit will be fully occupied by May.

Because of the joined-up working with third sector and partner agencies, it is hoped that Red Kite will play a part in fewer people having to be admitted to inpatient wards and shorter stays for those who do become inpatients.

Nik Lee is a mental health nurse by background and is the operations manager at Red Kite View.

He added: "The purpose of Red Kite is that we will be able to build better links with local services and partner agencies. That will reduce admissions and lengths of stay and improve the quality of care. The problem when people are out of area is that it is really difficult to have these links with community services, friends and family and the general community they are from."

The Trust has recruited new staff internationally, nationally and locally to ensure the unit has all the right expertise to provide safe, reliable and effective care. This includes recruiting around 40 people from the Armley and Lower Wortley areas of Leeds as part of a drive to reduce unemployment in these areas.

Later this year, a section 136 provision will open to provide a place for young people detained under the Mental Health Act so they do not have to be held in police custody or A&E.

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