Health centre move 'farcical'

PUBLISHED: 10:00 10 July 2011 | UPDATED: 14:06 10 July 2011

The handling of the move has been criticised by town councillors and care groups

The handling of the move has been criticised by town councillors and care groups

Archant

A mental health centre in Burnham is set to close, with NHS bosses' handling of the move being branded 'farcical'.

Belmont House will close within the next three months after the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said the building’s facilities were not of a sufficient standard.

But despite the closure being announced, suitable alternative venues to keep the service in the Burnham and Highbridge area have yet to be found, and concerns have been raised about the effect the move may have on patients.

They have also been concerned that many service users did not find out about the closure through the centre itself, but through rumours.

The centre, in Technical Street, currently provides assessment and treatment of mental health patients, but concerns had been raised about the fact that it does not currently have a lift, and is in poor condition.

In a letter to service users, Belmont House manager Colin Nash had said people would be treated from different centres across the two towns, and that appointments could also be on offer in Bridgwater if it was ‘more convenient’.

But Burnham and Highbridge town councillor Tom Nicholls said: “I struggle to see why Bridgwater appointments would be more convenient for Burnham and Highbridge residents compared to venues in Burnham and Highbridge. The idea worries me considerably.”

Tony Monaghan, treasurer of the Windows carers support group which operates in Burnham and Highbridge, said: “Hopefully the service will stay in Burnham. Some people have a phobia of going on buses with lots of other people. They might be able to make short trips but if it was to somewhere farther away they might not be able to do it.

“The one thing that people with mental health problems want is stability, and lots of moving around can be very upsetting for them, it can cause a lot of stress.”

Cllr Alan Miller said: “I think the handling of the move has been farcical. The house didn’t announce the news to the users first, they seemed to be the last to know.”

A spokesman for the trust said the new medical park in 
Berrow was one of the venues being considered to replace the services. Users concerned about the move should contact their social worker or someone involved in their support, he added.

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