THE decision to close a dementia unit at Chepstow Community Hospital could face a legal challenge from the local authority.

Councillors in Monmouthshire have been told that there is a “strong case” for a judicial review against Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB).

Conservative councillor Penny Jones admitted that any legal action could affect the council’s working relationship with the health board.

Speaking at full council on Thursday, the cabinet member for social care, safeguarding and health said: “We do believe we would be on strong grounds but are very conscious of the implications on our long-standing relationships with a key partner.”

The closure of the 15-bed St Pierre ward was approved on March 21 as part of a redesign of older adult mental health services across the Gwent region.

Cllr Jones said that ABUHB closed the ward at the earliest opportunity based on “clinical advice to ensure patient safety”.

“Since that decision we have received representation that indicates that this is not a unanimous clinical view,” said Cllr Jones.

“I’m highly concerned that not all views were presented to the board at the time of their decision making.”

The meeting heard that six patients have successfully made the transition from inpatient services at Chepstow to St Woolos Hospital in Newport and Ysbyty Tri Chwm in Ebbw Vale.

Cllr Jones also revealed that £200,000 would be invested by ABUHB to develop new ways to support older people with mental health needs alongside the council.

Plans to create a health and social care hub in southern Monmouthshire are already underway and will be reported back to the council in September.

But ABUHB were criticised for not sending representatives to council meeting on Thursday, a move slammed by Conservative councillor Paul Pavia.

“It is very clear that the whole process was predetermined from the start,” said the councillor for Chepstow’s Larkfield ward.

“The fact that senior leaders of the health board were not prepared to come here to justify the decision, and update us on how the closure programme was executed, demonstrates not only a breath-taking arrogance but how out of touch they are as a public body.”

Cllr Jones said that ABUHB would be present at select committee meetings “in the near future”.