State-of-the-art inpatient units take shape | News and events

State-of-the-art inpatient units take shape

A £49 million project to create state-of-the-art facilities for mental health patients in Norfolk has taken a significant step forward after roofing was installed at two of the brand new wards.

Contractors working for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) have this week topped out the Sandpiper and Kestrel Wards, which are being created at The Rivers Centre at Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich. Internal work will shortly begin on Sandpiper to construct 16 ensuite bedrooms and create a therapeutic environment which is designed to aid recovery.

In addition, steel frames have been constructed at Mayfly, which is the third new ward being built as part of the project, while the first steels which will form the gym have also been installed.

Over the next few months, Integrated Health Projects (IHP), the joint venture between VINCI Building and Sir Robert McAlpine, will make each of the new buildings watertight so that all of the internal work can begin.

It is hoped the new facilities will start welcoming patients by autumn 2024. Work will then begin to refurbish two existing wards on the site – Yare and Waveney – to further improve safety and quality.

Cath Byford, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief People Officer at NSFT, said: “It has been great to see these much-needed new buildings rise from the ground over the past few weeks and we’re really pleased with the progress which has been made so far.

“The Rivers Centre will provide modern, purpose-built environments for people who need specialist inpatient mental healthcare. It will also give us additional capacity, which means we will be to support a further 15 working age adults closer to home.

“These much-improved facilities will not only enhance the experience that patients and their carers have when coming to NSFT but will also make a big difference to our staff."

An innovative project to create original artwork for the centre is also progressing well, with service users, local people and 15 renowned artists all working hand-in-hand to generate ideas for the pieces.

The initiative is taking place in partnership with Hospital Rooms, whose mission is to bring world-class art and creative programming to mental health hospitals. It has seen artist-led workshops held at Hellesdon Hospital’s wards to give service users the opportunity to make their own artwork and influence the designs which will be installed at The Rivers Centre.

 As well as ward-based workshops, Hospital Rooms has partnered with Norwich University of the Arts, Sainsbury Centre and Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery to host free art-making sessions for community members who have used inpatient services.

Once all 70 creative workshops have taken place, service users, carers and NSFT staff will work together to explore and decide on the artists’ proposals for installations.

Dr Sophie Bagge, Lived Experience Lead for Model of Care Plus with NSFT, said: “The feedback we’ve received so far about this project has been phenomenal. People who use our services and our staff are thoroughly enjoying working with the artists and we’re really looking forward to seeing how the workshops will inform the final pieces which will be installed at the site.

“We are incredibly lucky and so thankful to have this opportunity to work alongside Hospital Rooms, all the artists, Sainsbury Centre, Norwich University of the Arts and Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery – it is a truly community-based, creative endeavour.

“We would encourage anyone who has received mental healthcare as an inpatient in the past and would like to get involved in this fantastic project to sign up to one of the future workshops and shape the artwork which will transform The Rivers Centre for years to come.”

For more information about the workshops of to book a place, visit

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