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Mental health care ward at Dorchester clinic temporarily closed
A WARD specialising in mental health care at a Dorchester clinic has been temporarily closed.
Patients on the Minterne Ward at the Forston Clinic have been moved to other units in the county and no admissions have taken place since December.
The locked ward at the clinic in Herrison Road in Charlton Down takes in people suffering from acute mental health conditions.
A spokesman for the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which regulates the health service, said an inspection had taken place in November and a report on their findings is due to be published within the next few weeks.
James Barton, director of mental health services at Dorset HealthCare, who is responsible for the running of the ward, said: “The Minterne Ward at the Forston Clinic has been temporarily closed to admissions while the trust invests in upgrading the ward environment.
“To minimise disruption, patient admissions are being diverted while the upgrade takes place, and the ward will reopen once the work has been completed.”
Patients have been transferred to a number of other clinics, including St Ann’s Hospital in Poole, and units in Weymouth, a spokesman for the trust confirmed.
The move was carried out ‘slowly and gradually’, the spokesman added.
The CQC inspection of the Forston Clinic in November followed another, which was carried out in January last year.
Both were routine inspections.
The report, which was published in March, found that improvements needed to be made in several areas, including standards of caring for people safely and treating them with respect.
However, it found that standards of quality and suitability of management were satisfactory.
It is the latest setback for mental health provision in the area.
It comes as 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 of this year 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 the people trying to enforce the changes cannot have experienced mental health issues themselves.
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 could not have survived the past 50 or so years without the dedication of those who have seen me through some dark times.”
Some 16 beds 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.
Policy won’t reduce need for hospital support
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 carers or family who cannot afford to travel to Weymouth.
“Some services have been cancelled in the evening. The X53 has been cancelled on Sundays.”
James Barton, pictured left, director of mental health services at Dorset HealthCare, said the trust along with NHS Dorset was trying to improve mental health care in west of 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. The inpatient beds at the Hughes Unit will be replaced with an increased provision of crisis response and home treatment services, to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”