02:31AM, Thursday 26 January 2012
Campaigners have slammed the 'disgraceful' decision by NHS bosses to close Charles Ward at St Mark's Hospital.
Berkshire PCT cluster board voted on Tuesday to proceed with the recommendation to move mental health inpatients from St Mark's, Wexham Park and Heatherwood Hospitals to Prospect Park Hospital in Reading.
The decision was greeted by disappointment and dismay from MP Theresa May, the Royal Borough and charities. The home secretary said: "I am disappointed that these important services will no longer be available in Maidenhead."
The Advertiser's Save Charles Ward campaign presented more than 2,400 campaign forms to Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BHFT) in July.
Cllr Simon Dudley, cabinet member for adult and community services, thanked Advertiser readers for supporting the campaign and said: "This is a very sad day for mental health patients and their families in Maidenhead, Windsor and Ascot."
He added: "We have fought long and hard to save local services for local people but the NHS has made the decision to go ahead with the move despite opposition."
The move will mean carers and relatives will have to travel 25 miles to Prospect Park Hospital to visit loved ones.
Conditions of the move include increased funding for community services and a recurring £100,000 pot for transport, which could include a community bus service or help with fuel costs.
Chief executive of Age Concern Slough and Berkshire East Tracey Morgan said: "It's disgraceful. Having spent all this time and money on the consultation, and despite everybody being against it, to then go ahead and do it anyway."
She added: "There will be a lot more pressure on people at home - the resources are not there in the community."
The move will be completed within 18 months with beds at Wexham Park being transferred first within the next six months. As the average length of stay is around 33 days no individual patients will be affected by the move.
For the full story see this week's Advertiser.
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