A MENTAL health services user is battling to challenge hospital cuts through the courts.

Ros Copson has launched a claim for a judicial review into health chiefs’ decision to axe the seven beds at the Bridport Hughes Unit.

She is being represented by a firm of London solicitors and a judge will decide next month whether a judicial review into Dorset Health Care Trust’s scrapping of the beds will go ahead.

Bridport resident Mrs Copson, who suffers from severe Obsessive Comp-ulsive Disorder (OCD), said: “I’m quite happy to stand up in front of a judge and jury and tell them why the beds need to stay.

“It would be an impossible situation if they went. It would completely destroy service users.

“I’m doing this because when it comes to people suffering, I can’t stand it.

“When you’re living with a mental health problem and a psychiatric disorder you need this service.

“These beds are desperately needed. When you are ill you need a place where you feel safe.”

Under the plans, the beds would be closed in 2013, along with beds for metal health patients at Stewart Lodge in Sherborne.

Health chiefs say they will replace the care provision with ‘home-based’ community services and a ‘crisis house’ in Weymouth.

Mrs Copson added: “Care in the community does not replace this.

“This has already created a huge unrest among patients and carers.

“Many people don’t have the support at home to make sure they are properly looked after.

“We’re extremely worried that the only in-patient facility will be three miles north of Dorchester or in Weymouth.

“It will be very hard for patients and carers to travel to and from the hospital.

“The trust has not solved the travel problem.”

Diane Aston, inset below, of Scott Moncrieff and Associates has taken on Mrs Copson’s case.

Simon Williams, chairman of the Hughes Unit Service Users (HUGS), said Mrs Copson’s claim has given campaigners the campaign group fresh hope.

He said: “It will be for the judge to decide whether we have a case or not.

“I hope it will be successful because so many people feel their views have been ridden roughshod over on the so-called consultation process.”

Mr Williams is urging as many people as possible who are affected to attend the HUGS annual meeting on Thursday, October 4 at 3.30pm in the hall at the back of the United Church in East Street, Bridport.

He said: “The more people who can come and express their views on this, the better.

“We want to hear everyone’s views and opinions.”

A JOINT statement from Dorset HealthCare and NHS Dorset said: “In partnership with NHS Dorset, Dorset HealthCare is working to make continued improvements to the quality of mental health care in Dorset.

“The rationale behind improving urgent care mental health services remains the same.

“To provide more ‘recovery-based’ services in the future, which will be personalised and responsive to each person's specific situation and focused on improving their overall wellbeing.

“These developments are in response to Government recommendations to move away from the traditional inpatient style of mental health service delivery, to a more person-centred, community-based approach - with inpatient beds available in line with medical need.

“NHS Dorset and Dorset Healthcare have been working with partners and stakeholders since August 2010 to develop services in order to meet the needs of the population of west Dorset and to ensure improved outcomes and greater service user satisfaction.

“There has been extensive engagement with varied stakeholder groups, service users and their family and carers. Reports and papers evidencing this engagement will be submitted.

“The Dorset Health Scrutiny Committee has been fully involved in the development of this project, since September 2010.”