MENTAL health services at Amersham Hospital are being expanded to enable more people to get the help they need closer to home.

The new Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit will have ten beds for patients aged 16 to 65 years from south and mid Bucks, who are in the most acute phase of a mental illness.

The unit will be housed in an extension to the existing Haleacre Unit, with therapy rooms, single bedrooms, a large open-plan lounge, a gym and a separate lounge for women.

The building work is due to be completed in September and the first patients should move in the following month.

Extra staff are being recruited to the unit, a joint initiative between South Bucks and Aylesbury Vale Healthcare NHS trusts.

Mental health services provided by the two trusts will become the responsibility of the new Buckinghamshire Mental Health NHS Trust from April.

The chief executive of this new trust will be Keith Nieland.

He said: "The new psychiatric intensive care unit will make a big difference to the range and quality of care we are able to offer."

The unit will be locked but will not take patients needing a high level of security. These patients will continue to go to the regional secure unit in Milton Keynes.