CAMPAIGNERS have reacted with disappointment after county councillors agreed to back plans to close Huntingdonshire’s only mental health inpatient facility.

Members of Cambridgeshire County Council's joint overview and scrutiny committee have come out in support of proposals to close Acer Ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital and move its 18 beds to the Cavell Centre in Peterborough as part of a county-wide shake-up of mental health services.

In their report published last week, county councillors said effective transport arrangements needed to be put in place for patients, and their friends and relatives, and the home treatment team strengthened.

Just days beforehand Huntingdonshire District Councillors had criticised the proposals and called for the ward to be re-opened.

Campaigner Liz Stokes accused the county council committee of prioritising financial concerns over patient well-being.

She said: "The very reason that Acer ward was opened in 1994 as a satellite inpatient ward to enable service users in Huntingdonshire to receive inpatient treatment locally is now being used to justify its closure - phrased now as 'isolated'.

"The impact on service users and carers of this ward closure is far greater than can be solved by increased transport provision. As I have said and will continue to say, sometimes an inpatient ward is the safe haven you need and when you do, it should be in your own local area - increased community and Crisis Resolution Home Treatment provision will not solve this."

Acer Ward was closed temporarily in October after clinical advisors deemed it unsafe, and the home treatment team was transferred to Peterborough.

A final decision about the future of the ward on March 28 by the NHS Cambridgeshire and NHS Peterborough board.