The future of acute mental health care

  • Create three Community Front Rooms

  • Create two Retreats

  • Enhance the Connection (the 24/7 crisis line)

  • Increase and reconfigure acute inpatient beds

  • Reconfigure recovery beds to where they are needed most

“This is an exciting time for mental health services. These changes mean that people with serious mental illness, who may have struggled to get the right support when they needed it, will have a wider, more flexible choice of how to get help. We strongly believe the new arrangements will be more responsive to their needs. The most important thing is that these are the services people have asked for, and are a real example of how the NHS, its partners and the public can work together.”

Dr Nick Kosky Medical Director, Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust

Community Front Rooms

We will be introducing three Community Front Rooms in local rural communities where access to services can be more difficult. These would be based in familiar community settings, such as cafes or day centres, libraries or supported housing services.

Community Front Rooms will be staffed by peer support workers, who have lived experience of serious mental illness, and health professionals. They will help people to manage their own crisis and will be open Thursday to Sunday from 3pm until 11pm.

We think that these Community Front Rooms will make it easier for people to get to services in rural parts of the county where transport is poor.


We will be introducing two new retreats which will be located in Bournemouth and Dorchester.

A Retreat will be a place where people can take themselves to get the right treatment and support when they need it. These will be calm and quiet places, and will be supported by a mix of clinically qualified staff and people with lived experience.

The main difference between the Retreats and the Community Front Rooms is that the Retreat will be linked to a Community Mental Health Team and based in an NHS setting.

This means immediate access to the right level of support, be it contact with a psychiatrist or community psychiatric nurse or a peer support worker.

Retreats will provide alternatives options when someone is in mental distress, rather than them ending up at emergency departments or police stations.

Enhance the Connection (24/7 crisis line)

We want to improve our existing 24/7 crisis telephone line to include a new service called Connection.  This will have extra staffing during peak hours from 6pm to 2am when demand is higher.

People will be able to get through to Connection by phone, email and Skype. It will offer emotional support to individuals in crisis or distress, appointment times and self-resolution through supported conversations.

16 new inpatient beds

There will be times when some people with serious mental illness need to be in hospital.  We want to have more beds and have them where they are needed most.

To do this will be adding 16 acute beds across Dorset. Four more inpatient beds will be added at the Forston Clinic near Dorchester and an additional 12 will be added at St Ann’s Hospital in Poole.

The 15 beds at the Linden Unit will also be moved to St Ann’s to ensure that beds are located to reflect demand. The Linden Unit will close once these corresponding beds have been opened at St Ann’s.

Reconfigure recovery beds

Recovery beds can provide an alternative to hospital admission or support people when they are discharged from hospital before they go home. They are based in homely settings and can also help people get home after they’ve been in hospital.

At present we have seven recovery beds in the west of Dorset but none in the east. We are keeping the same number of recovery beds (seven) as at present but three will be in the West and four in the East. This will make the services available to the highest number of people where and when they need them.