A NEW £10 million secure unit for women will open in York on Monday.

The 22-bed unit at Clifton House, off Shipton Road, will mean women aged from 18 and over with psychiatric problems and requiring a secure environment can be treated nearer to home.

It is the first such unit in North Yorkshire, with the first few patients returning to the area from as far afield as Northampton and Lancashire.

Fifty people have been employed to work at the new facility.

Beverley Hunter, general manager at Leeds and York Partnership (LYPFT) for the forensic psychiatry service, said the project has been years in the making and was a very positive step forward for mental health services in the area.

She said: "This is fantastic for local women. For women to be close to their families and friends and communities means a lot when you are taking a rehabilitation path. To be in your local area is fundamental."

Officially classed as a low secure unit, the facility has a four metre high fence around its perimeter and smash proof windows as well as a seclusion unit.

Among the conditions women will be treated for on two inpatient wards will be patients suffering from mental health conditions including depression, schizophrenia and personality disorders.

With most women moving there after being released from prison, many will stay in the unit from anything from a few months to a couple of years with the aim of being rehabilitated back into the community.

The unit has been built next to a similar unit for more than 20 men next door and it is intended some of the facilities can be shared.

Facilities include a new activity centre with gym, a training centre with supervised access to IT and a visitors’ area.

Jill Copeland, chief operating officer at LYPFT said: “We are delighted that more women from the local area will be able to stay closer to their friends and families and receive care in purpose built accommodation designed around their needs.”