CONSTRUCTION on a £13.8m children and young people's mental health centre has started.

West Lane Hospital in Middlesbrough, run by Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust is undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment to improve its inpatient facilities for children and young people.

Jo Turnbull, chairman of Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust along with Andrew McAlpine from contractors Sir Robert McAlpine, turned over the first sods where the new centre will be built and existing buildings modernised.

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The specially designed development will be completed in stages over the next four years and provide much improved accommodation including an additional four beds for children and young people with mental health problems.

The work will include a new, state-of-the art unit for young people who need to be cared for in a low secure environment. This 12 bed development will replace and expand existing facilities on the site.

There will also be extensive refurbishment to provide improved accommodation for inpatient assessment and treatment services.

The final stage of the project is to further expand the regional 12 bed Evergreen Centre which is part of the Northern Centre for Eating Disorders (NCED) inpatient unit, adding two additional bedrooms and extending the indoor and outdoor living space.

Jose Mediavilla, consultant psychiatrist, said the development would provide "one of the best inpatient services for young people with mental health difficulties to the North-East".