Councillors unanimously agree 'there is no support' for closing Bassetlaw Hospital's mental health wards
Councillors have criticised a travel plan set up to help families affected by the closure of the mental health unit in Worksop.
The mental health unit at Bassetlaw Hospital will be permanently closed in favour of services almost 20 miles away.
Nottinghamshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee said it cannot support the decision at its meeting on Tuesday.
Councillors criticised a travel plan designed to help patients, carers and relatives get to the new facilities.
A decision to move inpatient mental health services from the unit at Bassetlaw Hospital to Sherwood Oaks in Mansfield and Millbrook Mental Health Unit, near Sutton in Ashfield was made Bassetlaw’s Clinical Commissioning Group in July.
The CCG said facilities in Worksop need updating, but that it made more financial sense to move services to a better unit further away.
When plans were presented to councillors earlier this year, they expressed concerns over how families and staff would travel to the new units.
A travel plan has now been created, which includes financial support in “exceptional” circumstances, which was shown to councillors at the meeting.
It also includes non-financial support in the form of a visitor’s guide which includes bus timetables and explanations of how to reach the new sites.
Chair of the health scrutiny committee, councillor Sue Saddington said: “I expected a more detailed travel package.
"I think you need a degree to work out how you claim money.
“I think it is a way of people thinking ‘I can’t be bothered, and I won’t claim.’ Why have you not thought of a shuttle bus twice a week?
“This is not what I expected. To tell people they will be given a map and a timetable to get on a bus and that is your travel package – they could have done that without being told. We can all do that.”
Other committee members also believed a better transport system should be put in place for families and patients.
Coun David Martin said a shuttle bus ‘would be more practical’ and coun John Wilmott said the CCG should have spoken to taxi companies or bus companies to see if they would step in to help.
Cou Michelle Welsh said: “My concern is it is 80 (potential patients) at the moment, but it is hard to predict how many a year or in six months.
“Making this decision at this time is not a good decision.
"I am a firm believer in local health services that are community based. You recover better when you are near family and friends.”
Chief officer for Bassetlaw CCG, Idris Griffiths, said a support worker on the ward would help patients and relatives to make the claims.
He said: “We are trying to find a balance. Bassetlaw residents – the changes are impacting on them so we did agree there should be some financial support.”
He said taxi companies had been looked at, but it was not deemed financially viable.
The committee unanimously voted not to support the proposals because they were not in the ‘best interests of Bassetlaw residents’.
If Bassetlaw CCG go ahead with the plans, which are due to happen in the spring, then its bosses have been asked to return to the committee in six months to report on the impact of the move.