ACER Ward will not be reopened after health chiefs voted to “transform” mental health services in Cambridgeshire at a meeting today (Wednesday).

The board of NHS Cambridgeshire and NHS Peterborough voted through the proposals at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Ely this morning, despite overwhelming objection from patients of the Hinchingbrooke Hospital ward, their relatives and carers. More than 2,000 members of the public signed a petition against the closure of the ward, which was Huntingdonshire's only inpatient mental health facility. It was closed "temporarily" in October after the National Clinical Advisory Team advised NHS Cambridgeshire that it was unsafe - because 14 out of 33 jobs on the ward were vacant.

A spokesman for NHS Cambridgeshire said the board endorsed proposals to combine inpatient wards for adults, "to ensure that any patient who requires admission to an in-patient ward receives their care in a modern and purpose-built setting".

Cathy Mitchell, director of integrated commissioning said: "Even if Acer Ward were to be refurbished to modern standards, the unit would only be about half-full because many more people nowadays can be safely cared for in their own homes. It would not be possible to provide a modern recovery-oriented service safely to such a relatively isolated site."

One of the issues raised during the consultation was the difficulty people would have in travelling to Peterborough if Acer Ward was closed, therefore the board agreed to support a travel fund to assist with this.