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The challenge of the Victorian institution

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I read with interest John Casson's letter (aj 4.2.99). I am an architect working for a mental health and community nhs Trust on the reprovision of mental health services from a Victorian psychiatric hospital. This we are endeavouring to achieve through pfi and hope we are close (after four years of trying!) to signing the contract for this. The replacement facilities will be provided on six sites over a period of 18 months, a mixture of new-build, refurbishment and extension.

Many of the concerns John Casson raises we have already taken on board from our own past experience. We are very aware of the impact the built environment has on the mental health services we provide. We have always worked closely with our clinical colleagues and have gone to great pains to ensure that we retain adequate external space around our buildings and provide adequate space within them. While all projects are to some extent a compromise, we are confident that our new facilities will be a great improvement on the old institution, while retaining some of the therapeutic benefits that that provided.


Head of estate management, Sussex Weald & Downs nhs Trust, Chichester, West Sussex

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