Concern as NHS shuts down unit

ALZHEIMER’S Support has expressed concerns at the temporary closure of the inpatient unit at Charter House in Trowbridge.

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) made the decision due to low occupancy of beds at the centre, in Seymour Road, with only four of a possible 24 beds taken.

Patients were transferred to alternative centres this week leading to the official closure of the inpatient unit, but the centre will continue to be a team base for Trowbridge and west Wiltshire with an outpatient clinic remaining.

Anna Littlechild, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Support, based in Trowbridge, said: “We understood that closing the beds at Charter House was one proposal as part of a consultation into the best way to treat dementia patients with complex needs. Under the proposals, any bed closures would be accompanied by better services in the community.

“Closing them to admissions now, ahead of the consultation and before the extra services are in place, would seem premature.

“People with dementia needing an inpatient bed will now have to travel to Bath or Salisbury and it is very difficult for them and their families when they are so much further from home.”

AWP has assured Alzheimer’s Support that the closure is a temporary measure and no decision has been made regarding the future of the inpatient unit.

An AWP spokesperson said: “We will keep all our partners fully briefed and will fully engage with them in any decisions about the future of Charter House.”

Some councillors are unsure about whether the inpatient unit will open again.

“Dementia just isn’t going away, unfortunately,” said Wiltshire and Trowbridge Councillor Jeff Osborn.

Fellow Wiltshire and town councillor Graham Payne added: “I have this feeling that Charter House being in Trowbridge is considered by the management of AWP as being out in the sticks and rather too much hassle for them.”

A spokesman for GWH said: “Have you received great treatment from a team or member of staff? Has a member of staff gone the extra mile in delivering your care? If so then this is your chance to make sure it doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Figures released by the charity Alzheimer’s Support show the number of Wiltshire people with dementia on doctors’ registers last year rose to 6,736, an increase of 425, with the figure anticipated to rise to 9,077 by 2021.

During the temporary closure of the inpatient unit staff who work there will be reassigned.

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