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Posted on the 15th March 2021

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust (LSCft) has opened a new Mental Health Urgent Assessment Centre (MHUAC) in collaboration with East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust as part of their ongoing response to Covid-19.

Named the ‘John Hewitt Suite’, the new purpose-built unit is located next to the Emergency Department at the Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital. The Unit has been established as a safe and calm assessment space for any service users who are experiencing urgent mental health needs and have no coronavirus symptoms or physical health needs.

Chief Executive of Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, Caroline Donovan, said: “We really want to make sure that people who are in crisis with their mental health are able to access the help they need immediately.

"We have been working closely with colleagues at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust to develop an improved environment for service users and provide a safe space for them to access support.”

LSCft has invested around £800k in developing the new unit.

Sharon Gilligan, Chief Operating Officer for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “By working closely with our colleagues at LSCft we are delighted that the residents of Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen can benefit from this modern facility.

“The new unit will be instrumental in enabling the Trust to give the best care to people attending with a mental health crisis.

Our Emergency Department is extremely busy and is not the best environment for someone experiencing mental health crisis. The new unit will provide a much improved experience for service users.”

The centre was named after John Hewitt, a Manager of the Mental Health Liaison team in Pennine, who sadly passed away in 2019.

Caroline added: “John was dedicated to improving the pathway for people with mental illness and reducing the stigma of mental illness overall so for this centre to be named after him is a wonderful legacy for John and his family.”

The MHUAC, at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital, is one of several mental health urgent assessment centres being created across Lancashire and South Cumbria.

The unit at Blackburn complements the unit in operation at the Royal Preston Hospital and new units will open at Blackpool Teaching Hospital and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

There are already colocation of mental health services providing a dedicated facility in the Furness General Hospital in South Cumbria.

In addition, the Trust also launched a mental health crisis line which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling 0800 953 0110.

Trained clinicians are available to answer calls from people needing immediate advice or assistance, for themselves or a friend or family member.

Callers can receive a mental health assessment and referral on to appropriate services.