Wiltshire mental health beds shut amid safety concerns

An NHS hospital in Green Lane, Devizes Image copyright Google
Image caption Three assessment units will be consolidated into one facility in Green Lane, Devizes

Two of Wiltshire's three emergency mental health units are to shut their assessment beds for a year after inspectors raised safety concerns.

The Care Quality Commission highlighted ligature risks and delays in assessing patients at Fountain Way, Salisbury, and Sandalwood Court, Swindon.

Swindon Borough Council's adult social care cabinet member said the move was "deplorable".

Health bosses said closing them would allow problems to be dealt with.

In February 2016, the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust was told it must significantly improve after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said it was not "always safe, effective, responsive or well led".

In its latest report published in October, the CQC said it had not changed its rating because not enough improvement had been made.

The beds in the emergency units - known as "place of safety" beds - are used by people detained under the Mental Health Act while they wait to be assessed and given treatment.

'Very disappointed'

Both Sandalwood Court and Fountain Way have one place of safety bed each.

During the closures, the Green Lane site in Devizes will be expanded from having two place of safety beds to four.

Any longer-term arrangement would have to be approved by NHS England.

David Renard, the borough council's Conservative leader, said he was "very disappointed, but this sadly is not our decision".

Brian Ford, the council's cabinet member for adult social care, said the move would create a "facility and service which we feel will be worse".

In a joint statement, the NHS trust and the Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group said the closures would "provide an opportunity to address the CQC improvement requirements, particularly around assessment times".

They added: "During the period of temporary reallocation, engagement will be undertaken with the populations of Swindon and Wiltshire and individuals using the service."

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