Glimpse inside the future of mental health care

This is the first glimpse inside Atherleigh Park, a new £40m mental health hospital for people across the borough.

Building work started in January 2015 on the former site of Leigh East amateur rugby league club, on Atherleigh Way, Leigh.

And the final preparations are now being made ahead of patients moving from the Lakeside unit and three other wards at Leigh Infirmary in March.

The modern building certainly is very different to the ward it replaces. Rather than the dormitories at Lakeside, every patient will have their own room at Atherleigh Park.

There are 48 ensuite bedrooms for vulnerable adults with mental ill health - a 20-bed male ward, 20-bed female ward and eight-bed psychiatric intensive care unit.

The wards certainly do not feel like a typical hospital - in fact they are at times reminiscent of a hotel.

Atherleigh Park

Atherleigh Park

The rooms have a bed and other facilities, with a toilet, sink and shower in the bathroom. But there are extra details, for example the doors and handles are designed to be anti-ligature.

Other facilities include communal areas for relaxing and eating, a sports hall, gym and therapy rooms.

The building is light and airy and there are enclosed courtyards to get some fresh air or do some gardening.

The hospital also has a 16-bed unit for older people with mental health issues and the largest unit has 26 beds to provide short-stay immediate care for patients with dementia and memory conditions.

I’m incredibly proud of all the hard work that has gone into making Atherleigh Park a reality

Simon Barber, chief executive at 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

This unit has added features for the patients - there are memory boxes outside each bedroom, where people can put something they recognise to identify their room, and doors are painted in bright colours and bear images depicting what is inside.

There are a host of other facilities, including a cafe open to the public, staff area, a multi-faith room and a child visiting room for families.

There is a separate entrance to an area for people being brought in by the police to be assessed, rather than taking them past other patients.

Justine Topping, neighbourhood sergeant for Leigh, welcomed the area, saying it was better for police officers and the patients.

The hospital has plenty of local features, with large images on walls showing Haigh Woodland Park, Pennington Hall Park and other beauty spots in the borough.

And each area is named after a colliery, recognising the area’s mining history, including the Westleigh unit, Astley Green suite and Bickershaw therapy hub.

Simon Barber, chief executive at 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I’m incredibly proud of all the hard work that has gone into making Atherleigh Park a reality. It is a fantastic facility and will make a huge difference to the lives of not only the patients who are treated here, but their families too.

“We have involved service users from the start of the design process to help us achieve our aim of providing a purpose-built mental health environment which promotes enhanced privacy, dignity and respect with a focus on improving patients’ physical health as well as their mental wellbeing.

“I’m grateful for the continued support, involvement and positive encouragement we have received from local residents, councillors, leader of Wigan Council Lord Smith and MP Andy Burnham.

“Atherleigh Park is a facility the Wigan and Leigh community, and indeed the North West, can be proud of.”