A WOMAN who relies on mental health services in Swindon has urged health chiefs to reconsider closing the town’s place of safety permanently.

Ann Mooney, 59, says she has battled for years to get proper treatment for her mental health issues and is starting a course of treatment soon.

She supported the Keep our NHS Public campaign group and the Swindon Co-operative Party, who hit the town centre over the weekend in a bid to collect signatures calling on the boss of the NHS Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group to re-open the place of safety suite at Sandalwood Court.

The group handed out informative postcards for shoppers to sign and send to those in charge of the decision.

Ann said: “I strongly feel that we need a place of safety in every trust area, it’s crucial. I hope these protests work and I hope those in charge are listening to us.

“People in crisis are not getting the urgent support they need - you can feel depressed but there’s no-one to help, and they just send the police if you’re suicidal, which is the last thing you want. Psychiatric nurses do a great, job but their caseloads are too high and cuts keep being made to mental health services which make it harder for them to spend enough time with their patients.”

Sarah Church, Parliamentary candidate for South Swindon, said: “I’m keen to support service users like Ann and make sure they get the help they need.

“It’s so important to have a place of safety in Swindon and this is keeping the issue in the public eye.”

Sandalwood Court’s place of safety suite closed last March. NHS Swindon CCG said the closure would last 12 months while the effectiveness of an expanded facility at Devizes’ Green Lane Hospital was tested.

The closure proved controversial, and campaigners said it was wrong to make people who are in need of support travel 45 minutes out of Swindon to get it.They are also worried the temporary closure may become permanent. A consultation was held last month over whether the Swindon suite should be closed for good.

NHS chiefs claim the purpose-built new unit will be safer and reduce waiting times because its dedicated team can be based at Devizes full-time, not spread across the county.

Ann said: “They probably just hope that this fuss dies down and people forget about it so they can brush this under the carpet and close it permanently - that’s not happening.”