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Stars' get-well messages for new city hospital; Help for mentally ill.

Byline: BY LIZA WILLIAMS Daily Post Staff

A HOSPITAL unit to treat men with severe mental health problems has opened for the first time in Liverpool.

The Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Rathbone Hospital, Old Swan, will offer an eight-bed in-patient facility for men whose levels of mental distress are so acute they need intensive care.

Previously patients needing such treatment were sent out of the area and into private sector establishments.

It is the latest phase of mental health trust Mersey Care's multi-million pound regeneration of the Rathbone Hospital site, a former Victorian fever hospital now offering several specialist mental health services in modern buildings.

The unit has now been filled with get-well messages from some top celebrities who have sent signed photographs, posters, and words of encouragement to the unit.

Among the famous names are musician and singer Peter Gabriel, comedian and Harry Potter actor Robbie Coltrane, Absolutely Fabulous actress Julia Sawalha, Hollywood star Elizabeth Taylor, spin-doctor Alastair Campbell, and Dr Who star David Tennant.

Liverpool poet Roger McGough has written some prose for the unit too, based around its initials PICU.

Unit manager Nick Wade said: "In the same way that general hospitals have intensive care units for people who are most seriously physically ill, this unit will be for people who are in crisis and need much more intensive intervention than is normally provided in an acute ward."

The unit was officially opened by chairman of Mersey Care, Stephen Hawkins, at his last official duty on retiring from an eight-year term of office. The incoming chairman Beatrice Fraenkel was also present, along with Liverpool's Mayor and Mayoress Steve and Sandra Rotheram, and trust service user representative Anne Evans, who wrote to the stars for their words of encouragement.

The unit is already accepting appropriate referrals and should be fully operational and occupied by spring.

A spokesman added: "The messages of hope have been put on walls in an area called the hub, in the heart of the unit.

The self-contained unit will have a high ratio of staff, as well as recreational and occupational therapy areas for patients."

Mersey Care NHS Trust provides specialist mental health and learning disability services for adults in Liverpool, Sefton and Kirkby, while also offering medium secure services for Merseyside and Cheshire, and high secure services covering England and Wales.

lizawilliams@dailypost.co.uk

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Lord and Lady Mayoress of Liverpool, Steve and Sandra Rotheram - herself a Mersey Care community psychiatric nurse - with clinical nurse manager Nick Wade and service user representative Anne Evans; Roger McGough
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 30, 2008
Words:427
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