Building costs

Category: 2getherThe last time I wrote about Making Life Better, the magazine of Gloucestershire’s mental health trust (the 2gether NHS Foundation Trust), I remarked on a story about the Trust’s new mental health hospital, a ten bed unit that had cost £3 million.

The latest edition of the magazine arrived the other day, and there is much less to be said about it, so I thought I would return to some of the stories I mentioned last time.

The Greyfriars Unit

To put the £3 million hospital in perspective, here is a recent breakdown of the cost of building “three modest 3/4 bed houses” in Kent: Taxing times for small builders. The building project it describes is also roughly ten bedrooms and living space for that many people. The total building cost comes to £815,500, and that includes £300,000 for the land.

The point of that article is to point out that the government makes between £70,000 and £110,000 in tax from a building project like that, while the builder is lucky not to make a loss. However, the government seems to spend that tax in a mysterious way, paying £3 million for very roughly the same amount of building work for the NHS.

Although the new hospital is said to have some extra technology, it’s a psychiatric unit, basically just living space exactly like housing. Although it’s a specialist unit in terms of its medical role, it’s not a special kind of building. It’s very strange, and very wrong, that the Trust’s magazine makes no attempt to explain the enormous cost to the public.

Even more strangely, an old web page last updated in 2009 describes Wotton Lawn Hospital as having a Greyfriars Unit there already:

…a nurse led Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit with six beds.

So it looks like the Trust paid £3 million for only four extra beds.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

I also mentioned last time that the Trust was running a competition to find a new name for its Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. This story has vanished from the magazine.

It’s still there on the website, in a page dated June 2010: The search is on to rename CAMHS It would appear that the search has been abandoned. The link at the bottom of that page is broken: Click here to visit the new CAMHS website

The page you are looking for does not exist
or is temporarily unavailable

There’s no follow-up on the eating disorders story either.

Issue 9

The current issue has no date. It’s just “Issue 9”. In fact I received it around the beginning of February 2011.

The Trust News on page 3 is mostly old. It’s difficult for a quarterly print magazine to be up to date, but little effort has been made here.

The lead story is about an Investors in People award for the trust. What the magazine doesn’t tell you is that the award was made following a final assessment on September 9th, 2010. The next item is about some more awards made on October 22nd. The last item is about a recognition event on October 6th.

On the next page the top story is about World Mental Health Day on October 10th, and below that there’s a story about a video posted on YouTube on September 14th.

Page 5 finally makes it into this year with an announcement about a Dementia Listening Event on February 10th.

Fiona Phillips advertises her book on the centre pages (and decorates the magazine’s front cover). The book’s connection with mental health is that it’s about Alzheimer’s disease.

Another “state-of-the-art” hospital has been opened, back in September 2010. This time the magazine makes no mention of the cost.

Social anxiety

There’s a bland filler about social anxiety, containing this very odd advice, apparently designed to alienate anyone who actually does suffer from social anxiety:

It is very common indeed so no one should feel embarrassed about seeking help.

Then it goes on to claim, misleadingly, that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is used:

…to help build your confidence gradually.

(On the contrary, CBT works rapidly, not gradually, and it works by identifying unhelpful thoughts, not by building confidence.)

Getting worse?

So the magazine seems to be getting worse. Although glossy and colourful, the information in it is mostly outdated, poorly researched and useless. A more frequent single-page summary would be far better.

By the way, I was wrong when I suggested last time that the magazine might be outsourced to a media company. This issue says on the back page that it’s produced in-house. All the more reason to wonder how it can be so far removed from what’s going on.

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About Rod

Chairman of the Gloucestershire charity Suicide Crisis, Vice Chair of Relate Gloucestershire & Swindon, and an enthusiast for public involvement in the NHS.
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