A UNIT for those having acute difficulties with their mental health will not be returning to Swindon.

Instead the place of safety will remain in Devizes.

The Avon and Wiltshire Partnership provide the services though it was Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Groups' recommendation which will see services focussed on the purpose-built Bluebell Unit in Green Lane Hospital.

This has been agreed by the groups' scrutiny committee

The Swindon unit at Sandalwood Court in Stratton and one in Salisbury were temporarily shut after they were given a ‘requires improvement’ rating by watchdog the Care Quality Commission.

The proposal was presented to members of Swindon Borough Council’s adults’ health care and housing overview committee by Swindon CCG’s director of nursing and improvement Gill May.

She said: “This has been ratified by both Swindon and Wiltshire CCGs’ governing bodies.

The report presented by Ms May said that retaining the place of safety in Devizes only was considerably cheaper than other options, at £1.3m – £302,000 capital costs and running costs and deprecation of £904,000 per year.

In contrast, having smaller units in Swindon and Salisbury with the main unit in Devizes would cost between £500,000 to £700,000 per unit to bring them up to standard with running costs of £360,000 at each unit.

Replicating the standards of the Bluebell units in three sites would cost about £4.5m.

Travel to the unit from Swindon was an area of concern for councillors, with Bob Wright expressing worry about people being released from the place of safety and having to find their way home.

Ms May said: “If someone is not staying in the place of safety after being assessed, they will always be offered transport home.”

When the unit at Sandalwood Court closed, more than 2,000 people signed a petition to have it reopened and held protests earlier this year.

But mental health campaigner Ann Mooney doesn’t like that idea.

She said: “The Avon & Wiltshire Partnership should have a place of safety in every one of its units, just somewhere where people can go if they’re in difficulty. and where they can feel safe.

“I don’t think it helps being transported in a police car, with the lights flashing to cut the journey time. If you are having a crisis or an episode being in the back of a police car won’t help. I don’t think we should be treated like criminals.”