Plans to house Scotland’s first ever secure psychiatric unit for under-19s in Irvine have been warmly welcomed by the community.

The NHS Ayrshire & Arran board approved and endorsed the plans last year following their successful application to host the national secure forensic mental health inpatient service for young people in the area.

The North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership (NAHSCP) said if plans are signed off by the Scottish Government, they expect construction to begin in 2019/20.

This comes after the successful launch of Irvine’s Woodland View facility, where the secure unit would be located.

The plans have been warmly welcomed by the area’s MP and MSPs, who say it means young people would be able to receive proper treatment closer to home and show Scotland is serious about treating mental health.

Central Ayrshire MP Dr Philippa Whitford said: “From a healthcare perspective, this is very specialised work and I welcome the decision to build a dedicated facility in Scotland and to co-locate it beside the award winning mental health facility at Woodland View.

“This will be hugely beneficial for both patients and their families, who won’t have to travel such long distances for visits.” Cunninghame South MSP Ruth Maguire said:

“Even though it is at a very early stage, I am supportive of this project in principle and believe it would be an important addition to Scotland’s mental health care facilities.

“Having facilities specifically for young people who require this specialised mental healthcare located here and thus avoiding the need for them to travel to England or be treated in adult facilities is something I welcome, and I look forward to following the process of these plans closely over the coming months.”

Jamie Greene, West of Scotland MSP said: “This is an extremely welcome proposal from NHS Ayrshire and Arran. As it stands children and teenagers often must travel down to England to receive psychiatric treatment as Scotland doesn’t currently have this much-needed facility.

“The long distance makes it difficult for their families to visit them leaving them feeling isolated and in some cases, delaying their recovery.

“Having our own facility will allow patients to be treated closer to home, improving their chances at a full recovery. “Moreover, this will send a clear message that Scotland is serious about tackling mental health issues.

“I’m aware campaign groups have been pushing for a dedicated facility for children and teenagers for some time now so this will certainly be seen as a step in the right direction.

“As these proposals are still in their early stages it now falls on the Scottish Government to commit the £4.5 million so construction can begin immediately. I will do whatever I can within my capacity as a local MSP to move this project forward and I will be writing to Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison in the coming weeks concerning this facility.”

Thelma Bowers, Head of Service, Mental Health, at North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership said: “The service is a first in the Scottish healthcare system and will provide assessment, treatment and care for young people whose complexity of presentation and severity of risk is set within a context of challenging legislative frameworks and systems.

“The challenges and complexities of working with these young people require a level of expertise that is, unfortunately, not widely available in the UK.

“The aim is to treat these young people within Scotland and return them to their own community services following therapeutic intervention.

“We are currently developing the capital business case and, subject to approval, plan to start construction in 2019 / 2020. The proposed service is estimated to require 51.5 clinical staff, 2.5 non-clinical staff and an allowance for bank nursing, bringing the total estimated annual costs to £2.5million and the non-pay costs forecast to be in the region of £0.4million

"NHS Ayrshire & Arran/NAHSCP was able to demonstrate the strongest submission overall based on planning sustainability, academic links, networking and progress in integrating health and social care to underpin the service.

"Particular reference was drawn to the successful completion of Woodland view which has been delivered on time and to budget with approximate capital costings for the proposed SSFMHSYP on the same site.

"The new unit would provide a highly specialist resource to children and young people with forensic, ASD and learning disability concerns providing clinical in-patient expertise in assessment, diagnosis, intervention and stepped discharge.

"The new and innovative facility will provide support to a population of young people whose presentation and severity of risk is set within a context of challenging legislative frameworks and systems.

"The challenges and complexities of working with these young people require a level of expertise that is not available within Scotland or the rest of the UK.

"The proposed site currently includes the new Ayrshire Mental Health and Community Hospital, Woodland View. In addition the campus hosts the North Ayrshire Community CAMHs Team, North Ayrshire Specialist Health Community Learning Disability Team, Community Paediatric Developmental Disability Service and out of hours service ADOC.