THE planned closure of a Somerset mental health ward will not happen 'before summer 2022 at the earliest', it is anticipated.

The Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has confirmed it does not expect the 'relocation' of mental health beds from Wells to Yeovil to happen until summer next year, but that it is still intending the move to take place.

A campaign to save the St Andrew’s Ward facility in Wells, supported by Save Somerset’s Community Services, began in February last year.

It stepped up a gear in September 2020 when Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) plans to close the ward, with beds moved to Yeovil, were approved.

Now, the group claims success in its campaign, although the CCG says the relocation was never anticipated to have happened earlier and that it had not been postponed.

A spokesperson for Somerset CCG clarified that the total number of mental health beds was not decreasing - they were merely 'relocating' to Yeovil, more than 22 miles away.

"There is no reduction in bed numbers, and the proposals will help us to provide safer and better quality care to people who need this level of mental health support across the whole of Somerset," the spokesperson said.

Somerset County Gazette:

“At the Governing Body meeting on September 24 2020, the proposal to relocate the fourteen adult mental health inpatient beds from Wells to Yeovil was formally agreed.

"During this meeting, no set date for the relocation was given. Expectation was that the development of the implementation plan could take around 18 months.

"We do not anticipate anything realistically will happen before Summer 2022 at the earliest.

“To clarify, the relocation has not been postponed, it has always been dependent on a range of factors including the progress of building work and refurbishment on the Yeovil site and the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on the work, given the logistics involved.

“Our commitment and decision to make the move as soon as it is safe to do so, remains the same, and the experiences of the last 12 months have reinforced that the direction of travel in Somerset’s mental health services is the right one for our people.

"The pandemic has affected everyone’s mental and physical wellbeing both here in Somerset and across the country.

"Last year we were awarded £13 million funding to improve community mental health services for adults in Somerset, which has helped us accelerate many of the positive transformational plans we had in place.

“We will continue to work with service users; family, carers and friends to ensure they are part of the implementation of the proposal and remain informed and engaged with the process. As soon as we have further information, we will of course provide a more detailed update”.

However, the campaign to save the St Andrew's Ward beds said the 2022 date was a sign the pressure on the CCg was 'starting to have an effect'.

"We started the petition ( in September and now have 2,327 signatures and still growing," a spokesperson said.

"We also held a march and rally in October in Wells and a day of action and suicide awareness in Wells in December.

"Since then, we have been visiting town and parish councils to encourage councils and councillors to write to the CCG opposing the closure.

"Furthermore, all the councillors in Somerset’s district and county councils have been contacted and MPs across the region.

"This closure is a Somerset-wide issue; when one rural area of Somerset loses its services, it affects us all and sets a precedent allowing other local services to also close."

They said the campaign would continue, and the petition kept open to oppose an 'ill-thought out and very poorly timed' change.

The group also plans to hold another Day of Action/Suicide Awareness event on Saturday (April 17) in the grounds of St John’s Church in Glastonbury High Street from 6.30pm to 8pm, and a provisional date for a demonstration at the CCG HQ at Wynford House, Yeovil, in May.

For further details, email, or join the Save Our Community Services group on Facebook.