Veterans' charity to stop in-house care in Shropshire

Image caption,
Campaigners have staged protests in the past after the restructuring plans were announced

A charity is to stop in-house treatment of former servicemen and women with mental health issues in Shropshire.

Combat Stress staff at Audley Court in Newport have been told jobs will be lost through a restructuring process but exact numbers are not yet known.

It will become a hub for new "flexible" treatment plans that will be delivered within communities, the charity said.

Veteran Pete Neale, who is against the closure of 29 beds in the residential unit, said it was "a bit of a shock".

Mr Neale, founder of the Save Audley Court Facebook group, said campaigners were planning a protest in the coming weeks to try to stop the charity going ahead with its plans.

"They [servicemen] need to be in a secure environment with staff that are trained to help them overcome dark moments after treatment," he said.

The charity said it was considering a proposal from the group and the Veteran Engagement group to retain a block of accommodation to use for outpatient appointments or those in need of support.

Under the plans, the charity, which also has bases in Ayrshire in Scotland and Surrey, said triage nurses will start working in the Helpline team from January to assess people's needs more effectively.

Audley Court will help the design and testing of the flexible treatments, whilst providing outpatient services and co-ordinating community support in the central region, the charity said.

Chief executive Sue Freeth said the a rise in demand for their services lead to the restructuring.

"In the last 10 years we have seen a 143% increase in referrals for our specialist clinical treatment.

"This has made it more challenging to provide timely treatment to those former servicemen and women who need our help."

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