COUNCILLORS have called on mental health chiefs to provide more crisis beds in Hartlepool.
Bosses from the Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust, which provides mental health services in Hartlepool and the wider Tees area, came under attack over plans to close its nine-bed rehabilitation unit in Victoria Road.
The health trust says it is part of moves to provide more support in people’s homes rather than as inpatients.
It is part of planned changes to make £3m in savings a year.
The unit in Victoria Road closed temporarily at the end of September last year when there were no residents and the trust says it has seen falling demand in recent years.
Trust bosses are currently consulting on plans to permanently close the site and sell the building, which opened in 1996 and provided continuing care and rehabilitation and accommodation for patients, in some cases up to five years.
They say while it is in good condition the rooms do not have en-suite facilities, which is a key requirement of modern mental health care units.
David Brown, operations manager for the Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust, said crisis teams were often more effective than having crisis beds.
But the council’s adult services committee has written to healthcare providers, the clinical commissioning group, expressing its concern at the plans.
The letter states: “The aim to either support and treat people in their own homes or transfer them to an unfamiliar environment 20 miles away was not viewed as an acceptable outcome in all cases.
Coun Richardson, chair of the committee, said: “Our biggest frustration is we are having to react and can’t do much about what you are saying.
“We are expressing our will and determination for the people of Hartlepool to say we want crisis beds in this town.”
Independent councillor Keith Fisher added: “It’s cheaper, it’s not better, it’s not more efficient.
“To close down one of our services because it is not packed out is just not acceptable to me.”
And Coun Allison Lilley urged the health trust to try and improve their existing facilities in Hartlepool.
Mr Brown emphasised that 98.5 per cent of their Hartlepool patients receive services in the town.
He added: Of the other 1.5 per cent, most will be for specialist services that would be impossible to provide somewhere like Victoria Road.”