COSY rooms with ensuites, cafes and gyms, roof gardens, gazebos and water features in the courtyard – welcome to south Essex’s plush new £28million mental health hospital.

Brockfield House, the new medium and low secure hospital built to replace Runwell Hospital, is on the brink of opening to patients.

After five years of building work, patients will shortly begin moving into the facility, off Runwell Chase, Wickford, which is more like a boutique hotel than a mental hospital.

From the end of October, the 97-bed hospital will be home to men and women with a wide-range of severe mental disabilities from across south Essex, including Basildon, Southend, Thurrock and Brentwood.

The hospital, built by the South Essex Partnership NHS Trust, together with private finance company Grosvenor House Group, really does live up to its billing as state-of-the art.

Project manager for the trust, Martin Norton, said: “This place is amazing. Everything here, from the colours of the walls, to the decor, the furnishings and security features, have been thought out with tremendous detail. Patients themselves have had an input.

“The courtyard for example, where patients will be able to come to relax under supervision, has been created to bring an air of calmness and tranquility.

“We’ve used a combination of pitched and flat roofs, rendering, water features, covered walkways and plants.

“The finishing touches are now being made and patients will begin moving in from early November, at the latest.”

Brockfield House is a cross between a deluxe hospital, college and hotel, but that doesn’t mean security has fallen by the wayside.

Mr Norton added: “Security is second to none here. Many new measures have been brought in. For example, the glass in our windows is so strong, it would take someone with a massive sledgehammer about 50 whacks even to make a dent. We know because we’ve tried!

“We’ve also got three ex-soldiers to try to scale our walls and get out, but they couldn’t.

Government regulations mean all mental hospitals must be surrounded by a 5ft 2ins high wall, to stop patients from absconding.

Thought has also been put into ways to stop patients from harming themselves.

Mr Norton explained: “The taps have been designed so if someone tried to just press them on and off, with a view to flooding the room which is common in mental hospitals, the water just shuts off.

“Our staff can also kill the water and power supply to every room from upstairs. They don’t even have to be in the room.

“Special anti-ligature free door handles are also used everywhere, making it nigh on impossible for someone to hang themselves in their room.”

The hospital also has rehabilitation facilities, including an arts and crafts room complete with a kiln for pottery-making, a music suite, a multi-faith room, a sports hall, gym and even a cafe.

Dr Patrick Geoghegan, chief executive of South Essex Partnership Trust, said: “It’s a spectacular building. I’d move in here! I can understand some people may think £28million is a lot of money to spend on a hospital, but if you ask anyone in the street what a hospital is, they would say a place to make people better.

“That’s what we are trying to do with this development.

“There is still a huge stigma attached to mental health and patients will often end up on the scrapheap unless we do something.Yes they may have committed a crime, but we can’t judge them on that for ever. We have to try to make them better.

“One in four people will develop a mental health peoblem at some time in their life. A lot of brilliant, famous people have had a mental disorder.”

Dr Geoghegan added: “If you look at how much mental health hospitals have changed over the past century it is amazing. One hundred years ago people would have been put in the stocks for having a mental health problem.

“But I honestly believe that in 100 years time, people will have come on so much that people with a mental health disability will be be treated no different to anyone else in society.

“Brockfield House is a big step in bridging that gap.”