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13 November 2014

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You are in: London > London Local > Bexley > Community Life > £33m goes to 760-year-old hospital

River House, Bethlem Royal

River House, Bethlem Royal

£33m goes to 760-year-old hospital

The world's oldest mental health care provider is set to open a new state of the art unit serving patients from Bexley, Greenwich and Lewisham

The Bethlem Royal Hospital in South London, founded back in 1247, is making the final touches to its new state of the art unit. River House will accommodate 89 patients, and will provide specialist care in a 'medium secure environment.'

"substantial improvement on the current medium secure care at the Bethlem"

Spokesperson, NHS

The purpose-built facility is designed to protect individual patients, offering them treatment around the clock - but equally reassure the public that patients won't be able to leave without permission.

This security is found in the shape of air locked doorways, double jointed hinges on internal doors and tamper proof screws on fittings and fixtures.

Million pound investment

£33m was spent on building River House - the largest single investment the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust has ever made. A spokesperson said the new facilities will be a "substantial improvement on the current medium secure care at the Bethlem."

Six wards are named after local rivers, each wing has its own fenced garden and female and male patients are housed separately. The interior is designed to be light and airy and offers a much larger area for education, counciling and physical exercise.

Tailored support

A basketball court, a woodwork room and a gymnasium are all designed to help improve the self worth of the individual patients.

Library Image, Psychiatric patient sat on his bed

Library Image, Psychiatric patient

For those who respond well to treatment, there is now an opportunity to move to a different ward - something that couldn't happen before in the smaller Denis Hill Unit, that River House replaces.

The planning and building work at the Bethlem Royal has taken six years to complete and soon the patients will be moving in to their new surroundings.

History of change

The Bethlem Royal was first located in Bishopsgate, then Moorfields and finally from 1930 it moved to Beckenham. Since 1999 it has been part of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. 

The Hospital has also had a few name changes over the years -it's been called the St. Mary Bethlehem, the Bethlem Hospital, the Bethlehem Hospital and Bedlam. The word Bedlam has long been used to describe a sense of confusion.

last updated: 30/10/2008 at 16:45
created: 04/02/2008

You are in: London > London Local > Bexley > Community Life > £33m goes to 760-year-old hospital

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