frequently asked questions

Offering a transitional model of mental health care, the Maitland Mental Health facility will include general and forensic mental health services, catering for both male and female consumers.
Maitland Mental Health is a key project of the NSW Government’s Statewide Mental Health Infrastructure Program (SWMHIP), an initiative designed to support the delivery of mental health care reform across the state.

Early planning for the relocation of all mental health services from Morisset Hospital commenced in 2019, with initial master planning investigations undertaken based on the scope of the project.
The SWMHIP Business Case identified Morisset Hospital as a priority site for relocation and recommended that services be relocated to a site ideally co-located with, or near, a general hospital.

The Maitland Mental Health facility will be located at the Maitland Hospital campus in Metford. The Maitland Hospital campus is located about five kilometres east of the Maitland Central Business District.

Morisset Hospital was first established as a psychiatric hospital in 1906 and is one of four standalone mental health facilities remaining in NSW.
Morisset Hospital provides a range of mental health inpatient and accommodation services.
The older persons unit at Morisset Hospital (Ibis Unit) was deemed unfit for its original purpose and closed in 2019. Patients of this facility were transitioned to contemporary facilities, including local private facilities that specialise in this model of care.
As part of the project, several mental health service units that currently operate at Morisset Hospital will be relocated to the Maitland Mental Health facility.
While all services and units currently operating at Morisset Hospital will eventually transfer off the site, not all services are moving to Maitland Hospital.
Current plans include relocating the Kestrel medium secure forensic unit and adding new low secure forensic beds to Maitland, as well as the adult non-acute mental health services.
The remaining services at Morisset Hospital, including the Neuropsychiatry Unit and rehabilitation cottages, are not part of the new Maitland Mental Health facility, and planning is ongoing regarding where and when these services will be relocated.
 
Access to support services, including general hospital and community health services, public transport and other supports are a vital part of contemporary mental health care.
Morisset Hospital is an old facility that is no longer able to support modern mental health services for the people of NSW.
All affected staff will be offered jobs at the new facility and supported to help adjust to the change.

Building a new health service involves three key phases – planning, design and delivery. 
Early planning and design for the Maitland Mental Health facility is currently underway. To further progress the design of the new facility, consultation with staff, clinicians, carers, consumers and people with lived experience of mental health will be undertaken.
A town planning application will be prepared and lodged with the relevant determining authority in 2024. The town planning pathway will be confirmed once the design of the development has been progressed through consultation. Project delivery timeframes will be made available as planning progresses.

This important project was announced in October 2023 and early planning is underway. 
The exact timing for building and opening the new facility has yet to be determined, however construction at Maitland is unlikely to begin before 2025, and Morisset staff and consumers are unlikely to be required to move into the new facility until late 2026 at the earliest.
All our consumers, their families and carers, will be kept informed and supported through every stage of this project.
We thank you for your patience and understanding. 
 
The way we provide mental health care services, facilities and infrastructure in NSW has changed. Standalone inpatient mental health facilities no longer align with contemporary best practice.
The Maitland Mental Health project is an opportunity to relocate current mental health services from outdated facilities at Morisset Hospital to a new, purpose-built facility integrated with recently expanded and enhanced health services at the Maitland Hospital campus.
The Maitland Mental Health facility will be designed as a modern mental health service that supports the delivery of best-practice care. It will build on the high-quality care already provided by staff at Morisset Hospital, allowing patients to be treated in a therapeutic environment with a security level that best supports their recovery. 
The Maitland Mental Health facility will provide specialised mental health support for some of the most vulnerable cohorts of the community including adults and forensic patients.
The new facility will offer general and forensic mental health services catering to both male and female patients, including:
  • Adults who are classified under the Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act NSW (2020) and on occasion, high-risk civil patients under the clinical governance of the NSW Forensic Patient Flow Committee 
  • Adults who require mental health inpatient care, with a focus on the management of consumers with behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). This may include a mix of acute and non-acute care types  
  • Adult non-acute mental health inpatient services for patients over 18 years requiring recovery and/or rehabilitation from a mental health condition. Admission to the unit may be voluntary or involuntary under the Mental Health Act NSW (2007). 

The Maitland Mental Health project is being delivered by Health Infrastructure in partnership with Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD).
The facility will be networked with Hunter New England Mental Health Services and Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network (JHFMHN) which is the primary service provider and coordinating agency for forensic mental health services in NSW. Both service providers will be involved in the delivery of the project.

The design of the Maitland Mental Health facility will be a collaborative process involving a broad range of stakeholders and the community. The design of the facility will be coordinated by the Health Infrastructure and HNELHD project team, in collaboration with mental health service and District staff, clinicians, carers, consumers, people with lived experience of mental health and other key stakeholders as required.

Construction timeframes will be confirmed once further planning has been undertaken.

Low and medium secure mental health units in NSW have many additional layers of security to protect consumers, visitors, staff and the community including:
  • environmental and physical security (for example, considered as part of the building design to ensure perimeter and building security, observation systems, access control and alarm systems);
  • relational (for example, staffing ratios and intensive treatment programs); and
  • procedural (for example, team reviews of risk and treatment plans, specialist treatment skills).
The NSW Health Facility Planning process is a collaborative process involving consultation with a broad range of stakeholders and the community. Health Infrastructure and HNELHD are committed to ensuring proactive, inclusive, and meaningful consultation is maintained with a broad range of stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle. 
Health Infrastructure and HNELHD will work closely with a range of of stakeholders including mental health services and hospital staff, clinicians, consumers and their families, carers, people with lived experience of mental health, Aboriginal stakeholders, government agencies and the community to plan, design and deliver the Maitland Mental Health project.  
Consulting with all types of users provides valuable and ongoing insight at every stage of the project, to ensure the best possible outcomes are achieved for the new health service.
Our priority is to continue to provide quality healthcare and support to consumers at Morisset. We will work closely with people who have a lived experience of mental health, consumers, their families, carers, and staff of both Maitland Hospital and Morisset to involve them in the planning and design of the facility, including the transition conversation.
The new facility will be designed in accordance with the Australasian Health Facility Guidelines (AusHFG) and will be guided by state, national and international best practice design.
The most complex forensic patients will remain under the highest levels of security in the Forensic Mental Health Hospital located at Malabar, which is operated by the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network.
The new Maitland Hospital opened in January 2022, providing expanded and enhanced healthcare services for the growing health service needs of the Hunter Valley community.
Current mental health services at Maitland Hospital include 18 adult acute inpatient beds and six adult close observation beds.
The Maitland Community Health Project is separate to the Mental Health project and will be a stand alone Community Health Centre on the Maitland Hospital Campus. Planning is continuing, with an updated Clinical Services Plan awaiting Ministry of Health approval. Once approved, we will be able to provide staff and the community with more information.
The NSW Government is implementing the state’s biggest mental health infrastructure reform program, delivering more and better co-designed facilities for people with mental health needs, their families, carers and staff.
The $700 million Statewide Mental Health Infrastructure Program (SWMHIP) is designed to support the delivery of this mental health infrastructure reform program across NSW, meaning that important infrastructure enhancements can be delivered for both acute and community based mental health services.
The SWMHIP is supporting mental health care reform in response to the recommendations outlined in the Mental Health Commission of NSW’s Living Well: a Strategic Plan for Mental Health 2014-2024.