Inpatient mental health centre, Highgate

A 21st century approach to mental wellbeing

BAM has been appointed to deliver a new centre in London being co-designed by service users and staff.

Most people in the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington who have complex or severe mental health needs, requiring in-patient treatment, are currently cared for in dedicated wards at St Pancras Hospital. But these facilities are getting old and are no longer suitable for modern approaches to mental health.

Medical director at the Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Vincent Kirchner, explains the key issues: “Many bedrooms at St Pancras Hospital are shared, easy access to outdoor space from most wards isn't possible, space for activities is limited and ongoing major construction in the area, with more and more tall buildings overlooking the site, make it increasingly difficult to provide a calm, therapeutic and private environment for recovery.”

Project details

  • Customer: Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust
  • Contractor: BAM Construction
  • Architect: Ryder Architectural

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84 Fact icon beds will move from St Pancras to the new building
Secure Fact icon roof terraces will give people safe access to outside space
The solution is a new in-patient mental health centre designed to provide all the care and services that promote and support recovery. BAM has been appointed as the main contractor for the purpose-built centre.

Trust Project Director, Akin Durowoju, who is leading the new build, said: “In appointing a contractor we considered not only their experience in mental health facility design and construction, but also how key responsibilities, such as those to the environment and local communities, are met. We are confident that BAM will deliver on all of those things.”

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust is the largest provider of mental health and substance misuse services to people living in the two London boroughs, as well as delivering substance misuse and psychological therapies to residents in Kingston.

The Trust is committed to providing the calibre of mental health care that its service users deserve, expect and that is fit for the 21st century. As part of this wider, clinical vision, its current inpatient wards – accommodating 84 beds – will move from St Pancras to the new building.

The centre will be in a much quieter part of London. Tucked away opposite the Trust’s existing, smaller inpatient facility – the Highgate Mental Health Centre – close to the leafy calm of the world-famous Highgate Cemetery, it’s a great opportunity to design a setting that actively promotes recovery.

Designed by the users, for the users

The new facility is being brought to life thanks to the vision and input of many people that use the Trust’s mental health services and many staff who work at every level with them: from ward administrators to senior clinicians.

Consultation about what patients, carers and staff want to see in the new building began as far back as 2017. This has involved listening to their ideas, suggestions and experience of using existing inpatient services, with this feedback helping to shape the design of the new building. The result is a real sense of ownership and excitement about the project.

As Dr Vincent Kirchner explains: “To deliver on what service users and carers have told us they want in the new facility and what we know supports recovery and wellbeing, the new facility will have a gym, dedicated space on each floor for therapeutic activities, a family visiting room, a spiritual/faith space, sensory rooms and a café for people to meet and socialize.”

More recently, people living near the proposed site, close to the Whittington Hospital, have been invited to engagement events. As a result of these meetings, the Trust’s plans are evolving further to incorporate feedback from local residents, businesses and local authority planners.

Current inpatient wards – accommodating 84 beds – will move from St Pancras to the new building. The centre will have five wards, including single sex areas, as suggested by service users. Privacy is paramount, so every patient will have their own ensuite room, unlike the existing wards where some people have to share.

Although the centre will be close to other buildings, a series of secure roof terraces will give people safe access to outside space with all the privacy they need for effective recovery.

There will be comfortable and relaxing family visiting areas. The café at the entrance is designed to help blur the lines between hospital and community, and to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.

Choosing the right contractor

BAM has been appointed as main contractor for the project, following a competitive process under the Procure 22 framework. Its experience on more than 100 different health schemes in London alone, combined with a highly modern and sophisticated approach, is what the healthcare sector demands.

The key to BAM’s approach will be to work closely with the Trust and its stakeholders, to understand their needs clearly and thoroughly.

The Trust’s St Pancras Transformation Director, Malcolm McFrederick, said:  “Our aim is to develop a modern, therapeutic facility that supports wellbeing, recovery and enables staff to provide the best possible care. We are delighted that a contractor has now been appointed to turn year-long co-production discussions, into a reality.”


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