A HEALTH service is to move out of an ageing centre to another town, with the number of beds almost halved and more patients to be treated in their homes under new plans.

The Primrose Lodge unit, which helps people with complex mental health needs, is to move from Chester-le-Street to Shildon, it is proposed.

Read more: North East hospital set to get £720,000 new roof

The Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation wants to relocate the inpatient rehabilitation and recovery unit from its current 15-bed home to a vacant eight-bed facility.

Jennifer Illingworth, the trust’s director of operations for Durham and Darlington, explained the move to councillors at a meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s health and housing scrutiny committee.

She said: “The main driver for this is patient safety.

“Primrose Lodge is an old house. It’s a beautiful old building but not really fit for purpose for modern healthcare needs. We’ve had issues there. We can’t give residents an en-suite bathroom like every other inpatient facility we have.

“There are issues with stairs. Everything’s on the first floor, so it’s not very good for anybody that has any access issues.

“We are talking about a bed reduction so when and if we move through to the Shildon property, it will go down to eight beds rather than 15.

“There would be eight en-suite rooms. It’s far more fit for purpose for modern mental health delivery.

“We do believe we can manage with the seven less beds than we’ve currently got.

“We’ve had some funding to enhance the community rehabilitation team service. That means what we’d ideally like to do is let more people live in the community in homes and not in an inpatient bed.

“That enhanced service will provide intensive home support to people to keep them in their own communities, and that will be a county-wide service.”

She added they still had more beds than other areas, including 15 beds at Willow Ward, West Park Hospital.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054