DEFIANT campaigners have vowed to fight on to save mental health beds at the Hughes Unit at Bridport hospital.

The beds are due to close on April 1 but the Hughes Unit Support Group (HUGS) has refused to abandon hope.

Rosalind Copson, who says she could not have survived without the unit, said that the people trying to enforce the changes can not have had much experience of mental health issues.

She said: “For everyone’s sake, mental health beds and units such as the Hughes Unit are so vital 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“I personally could not have survived the past 50 or so years without the dedication of those who have seen me through some very dark times.”

Some are in-patient beds are going from mental health wards at Bridport Hospital and Sherborne hospital.

The health service said day services, out-patient and home visit services would instead be bolstered.

There are also plans to set up ‘crisis houses’ to deal with urgent cases – probably starting in Weymouth.

A HUGS spokesman said a new policy of home treatment had not lessened the need for beds.

He added: “Many carers visit the Hughes unit daily.

“This will be almost impossible when visiting the crisis house in Weymouth.

“We do not know of any funding for people who cannot afford to travel to Weymouth.”

James Barton, director of mental health services at Dorset HealthCare, said the trust, along with NHS Dorset, was trying to improve mental health care in west Dorset.

He said that this was in line with Government recommendations to move away from in-patient care.

He said: “The rationale behind improving urgent care mental health services in Dorset is to provide more ‘recovery-based’ services in the future.” “These will be personalised and responsive to each person’s specific situation.”

* WEST Dorset MP Oliver Letwin has regularly met with campaigners about the issue.

He said: “Proper provision for people suffering from mental illness is incredibly important.

“I think we have to trust the medical advice that the new service, which will cost the same as the old service, but will involve more support at home and less use of residential care, will be an improvement."