Council 'disappointed' over mental health services move

Psychiatric patient waiting in a ward Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust must save £12m over the next three years

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A Berkshire council has said it is "deeply disappointed" over plans to scrap mental health in-patient services in the east of the county.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has vowed to fight proposals to move beds from St Mark's Hospital in Maidenhead to Reading.

Closure of Charles Ward at St Mark's was one option considered by Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The trust has to make more than £12m of savings in the next three years.

It currently provides hospital care from three sites in east Berkshire - Wexham Park in Slough, St Mark's in Maidenhead and Heatherwood in Ascot.

Two of the three options being considered involve moving all or the majority of in-patients to Prospect Park Hospital in Reading while the third is to build a new mental health unit in Slough.

'Unnecessary barriers'

The three ideas were consulted on, but the trust said a plan to build a new facility in Slough was too expensive.

It also said a proposal to keep some services in Maidenhead was not supported by clinicians.

Community services councillor Simon Dudley said: "It is ridiculous to ask people with mental health issues to trek all the way to Reading for treatment when there is an excellent service locally which is convenient for both them and their families.

"We don't accept that closing Charles Ward is the best way forward for patients in the Royal Borough.

"Closure will seriously undermine local health provision for our residents and potentially put up unnecessary barriers to treatment for many people who are already going through difficult times."

A final decision will be made by Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Berkshire East in June.

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