PROPOSED changes to older adult mental health services in Gwent have been described as “significantly flawed” by Monmouthshire County Council.

In a draft response seen by the Argus, the local authority is weary to support the ongoing consultation by Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB).

It is claimed in the response that the preferred option of closing the St Pierre dementia ward at Chepstow Community Hospital would “severely undermine the confidence of the local population in the health board’s commitment to Chepstow”.

The response also says that the high population of older people in the county has not been considered alongside the plans.

Monmouthshire has the highest number of people aged over 65, 75 and 85 across all of Gwent, according to 2016 population estimates by StatsWales.

The statistics show that 24.22 per cent of residents are over 65, 13.39 per cent are aged between 65 and 74, 7.58 per cent are aged between 75-84 and 3.24 per cent are aged over 85.

The response also adds that the number of over 85s in Monmouthshire is projected to rise by 185 per cent by 2039.

“Nowhere does the consultation document consider the proportion of older people, and prevalence of dementia, as a significant factor in option appraisal,” the response reads.

It adds: “Our view as a council is that this means the option appraisal is significantly flawed in considering how best to meet current and future needs.”

Issues of transport are also addressed, as the closure of Chepstow would mean patients and their families would have to travel to either Newport or Ebbw Vale for treatment or visits.

The council say that there has been no mitigation as to how increased travel time for carers will be addressed by ABUHB.

It adds: “Carers will frequently be old and vulnerable and the consequences of the change will be further travel, over greater distances, compounded by poor public transport and challenges around car parking.”

At a meeting of the council’s adult select committee on Wednesday, members expressed their approval of the draft response ahead of it being considered by full council on Thursday, January 18.

Claire Marchant, chief officer for social care, safeguarding and health, said the response was “significant” as it was the first time that the council had made a formal stance against a ABUHB proposal.

“This a serious matter which concerns some of our most vulnerable citizens,” she added.

A spokeswoman for ABUHB said: “We will be concluding a period of public consultation on our older adult mental health services on the January 26 and we welcome all responses to the consultation and will give careful consideration to all feedback including the response from Monmouthshire County Council.”