Two mental health wards at Sussex hospitals to close
Two hospital wards are to close in a major shake up of mental health services in Sussex.
The Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath will lose a ward, as will St Richard's Hospital, in Chichester.
The changes, which take effect from next April, will also see 20 beds going from the Department of Psychiatry at Eastbourne District General Hospital.
Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said it was part of a plan to improve community mental health services.
Dr Tim Ojo, executive medical director at Sussex Partnership, said: "These changes are the right thing to do based on good clinical practice and on what people tell us they want from local services.
"They will enable us to develop a modern mental health service across Sussex."
Other changes include more mental health professionals working alongside GPs in their surgeries to give advice and support, longer opening hours for community mental health services, and new services for people with dementia including faster diagnosis and assessments.
There will also be a new shared care ward at Princess Royal Hospital for people with physical health problems who also have dementia, and an expansion of the mental health liaison service in hospital emergency departments across Sussex.
The trust said it was still committed to providing a hospital bed for people with a more severe mental health problem.
But Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, questioned whether the changes would be an improvement.
"If beds are such a rare commodity, then people have to take an awful lot of risk with people who really may not be able to survive even with some of this improved support in the community," she said.