A MENTAL health facility for people in crisis in Salisbury will close, forcing patients to travel 45 minutes to Devizes.

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Trust announced the decision to move the Place of Safety suite from Fountain Way psychiatric hospital in Salisbury to Green Lane Hospital on Tuesday.

It followed a public consultation and came in spite of strong opposition from bosses at Salisbury District Hospital, who feared it would pile pressure on A&E.

Currently the Trust has three Place of Safety units based in Salisbury, Swindon and Devizes.

They each provide a safe environment for one person detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act for up to 72 hours, while trained staff assess them and organise ongoing care.

The Trust considered several options but decided to move Salisbury and Swindon’s units to Devizes, where it will build an extra suite, increasing the county’s capacity from three to four.

This will provide “consistent high quality service”, “an environment which is fit for purpose” and “an additional resource of mental health professionals” as well as “sustainability in terms of cost and efficiency”, according to the Trust.

The report said the Trust had looked at building, buying or leasing another building in Salisbury and Swindon, but it was “not viable” because of “financial pressures and freeze on capital”.

People raised concerns that a decision had already been made when building work began at the Devizes site before the consultation had ended.

But the Trust said only the Devizes site had “the potential for being fit for purpose from a building/environment viewpoint. Closure of the other suites has to take place as they do not comply with required standards”.

It said: “We emphasise that this does not imply the decision was a ‘done deal’.”

The public consultation also showed a “high level of concern” about the effects “increased travel and lack of contact with families” would have on people in distress.

But the Trust said the move should cut the time patients spend in a Place of Safety, adding: “The national reduction in target time for length of stay to 24 hours should mean face-to face-support from friends and family is unlikely to be necessary.”