A HOSPITAL which cares for patients with mental health problems is to expand in a bid to meet increasing demand.

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Plans to build a new 42-bed facility at Cygnet Hospital in Stevenage were approved by borough councillors on Wednesday night.

The site on Graveley Road currently houses 90 patients across five wards, providing rehabilitation services to men and women with mental health illnesses.

Two further wards for acute services and a facility for those getting ready to be discharged will now be built across two separate buildings, creating around 75 jobs.

The plans also include a recreational area, allotments, and a landscaped garden.

In the pre-planning meeting report, it said the expansion by Cygnet Health Care Ltd was “led by both a local and national increasing demand for these services”.

It also outlined the independent mental health service provider’s belief that the discharge facility would “allow a reduced in-patient length of stay and faster rehabilitation into the community”.

A previous application which had proposed a further 68 beds was withdrawn in favour of the scheme, designed “in response to changes in the healthcare model”, the report said.

Helen Bond, communications manager at Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides care for those with mental health problems in the county, said the use of in-patient services is something the trust was moving away from.

“National trends are very much heading towards a reduction of in-patient services and as an organisation we don’t have a need locally for that type of in-patient service,” she said.

“We’re not saying we disagree with the planning application as it is run as a national facility and provides a very specific type of service.”

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