Mental illness units to be cut in Gwent

THE number of hospital units in Gwent for older people with a mental illness that is not dementia, will be cut from four to two under proposals from Aneurin Bevan Health Board.

The idea is to be publicly consulted upon, as part of plans for the second phase of a redesign of older adult mental health services.

If approved, the move will reduce the number of beds for such patients – known as functional beds – to 24 from 29, to be provided at St Woolos Hospital in Newport, and County Hospital, Griffithstown, with functional units at Ysbyty’r Tri Chwm in Ebbw Vale, and at Ty Glas in Ystrad Mynach, being closed.

A key aim is to develop separate functional and organic (for dementia patients) units, to help the development of highly skilled expert teams specialising in the treatment of one particular type of patient.

The redesign of services will also help achieve single-sex wards, in line with Welsh Government guidance.

Phase one of the redesign, carried out late last year, involved the closure of the unfit-for-purpose, nine-bed Ty Bryn ward at Maindiff Court Hospital, near Abergavenny, with dementia patients being moved to Chepstow community hospital or Hafen Deg ward at County Hospital’s Ty Siriol unit.

Patients with functional (non-dementia) illness were also moved to Hafen Deg ward, but the phase two proposal will separate them.

Mental health bosses believe the reduction in functional beds is not a problem, as currently one-in-five of the 29 available are unoccupied at any one time.

The development of a non-dementia unit in Torfaen would mean dementia patients from the county borough having to go to Ysbyty’r Tri Chwm, which along with Ystrad Mynach would become dementia-only units.

Subject to the public consultation, the health board aims to begin the phase two changes in December.

A third phase, likely to be introduced next year, could see a single 19-bed non-dementia unit established at County Hospital.