MPs Nicola Blackwood and Andrew Smith have visited the Highfield Unit Oxford to see the recently opened £11m facility and chat with young people at the unit.

Psychiatrist Dr Kate Stein with Andrew Smith MP and teaching assistant Helen McCuaig

Psychiatrist Dr Kate Stein with Andrew Smith MP and teaching assistant Helen McCuaig

Nicola Blackwood, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, and Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East, came to the new unit to meet clinical and teaching staff and to speak to the young people during one of their classes at the school. The unit, which opened to patients in February, provides specialist inpatient services for young people aged 11 to 18 with acute mental health needs.

The politicians fielded wide-ranging questions from the inquisitive students and were asked their views about issues affecting young people with mental health difficulties, the conflict in Syria and the environment. They were also asked what car they drove and whether they shopped at Primark! 

After her visit to visit to the unit, Nicola Blackwood tweeted: “Just visited Highfield Adolescent Mental Health Unit. Great staff; impressive grilling from young residents!” She later said: “It was a real pleasure to visit the Highfield Unit. The new facilities and the commitment of staff to the wellbeing of the young residents were impressive. I was certainly kept on my toes by the wide range of issues students raised in our Q&A and really valued hearing their opinions about how we can improve our mental health services.”

After his visit, Andrew Smith said: “I had a really friendly discussion with the young people there.  It was good to see the care and support they are getting to, and the high quality of the facilities.”

Catherine Lloyd, Assistant Headteacher at Oxfordshire Hospital School, said: “It was wonderful that both Nicola Blackwood and Andrew Smith found time to join the young people during a class. Both sessions were lively and included lots of questions from the young people. We really value the support of both MPs, who showed a keen interest in understanding the issues affecting young people with mental health

Teacher Jackie Wheatley, with Nicola Blackwood MP and Francine Tutty, clinical nurse lead

Teacher Jackie Wheatley, with Nicola Blackwood MP and Francine Tutty, clinical nurse lead