NORTH Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson has criticised a proposal by the Avon & Wiltshire Mental Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to close Swindon place of safety facilities.

The changes would see the closure of a 'place of safety' unit in Sandalwood Court Swindon and Fountain Hospital Salisbury with suites at Green Lane Hospital in Devizes serving the entire county.

This would mean Swindon mental health patients would be sent out of the area and face a 40-minute journey for assessment.

In a statement, Mr Tomlinson said: “I am incredibly disappointed to hear that AWP intends to close Swindon’s place of safety. I was given no prior warning of this. One in four people suffer from mental ill health each year and, at a time when the Prime Minister has rightly said we need to ensure we treat both mental & physical health equally, it cannot be right that residents in need of urgent, specialist support will be asked to travel 40 minutes to Devizes.

“It is crucial that support is provided to the most vulnerable people in a place which is safe, welcoming and close to family & friends. I will be sharing my concerns about these proposals directly with AWP.

Under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act a person believed by the police to have a mental disorder, and who may cause harm to themselves or another, can be taken to a place of safety where a mental health assessment can be carried out.

AWP say Swindon’s place of safety site cannot stay open because there is insufficient space to expand, the cost of building is too great and analysis of admissions showed that Green Lane is the busiest suite.

The proposal has been backed by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson.