A GWENT AM has asked the Welsh Government to take action to save a dementia ward from closure.

The Aneurin Bevan University Health Board made the decision to close the 15-bed St Pierre ward at Chepstow Community Hospital last month.

But earlier this week it was revealed Monmouthshire County Council was considering launching a judicial review against the decision.

And, speaking during First Minister's Questions on Tuesday, Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay said the decision has been "roundly criticised by dementia sufferers and their families alike in my constituency".

"It now appears that the decision could face a legal challenge from Monmouthshire County Council as it seems there is a strong case for a judicial review, and such action will clearly be detrimental to say the least to the relationship between the local authority and the health board," he said.

Addressing Carwyn Jones, he asked: "What discussions has your government had with the local health board about their decision, and will you press the board to look at reversing this decision, even at this late hour?"

But Mr Jones replied: "It is for the health board to plan and design services that meet population needs."

But he added he recognised there were concerns over the closure of the ward.

"I understand the community health council have expressed overall support in relation to the community-based model," he said. "We know that community-based services assist people to have access to appropriate and timely services as close to their home as possible.

"The board have agreed a further £200,000 recurring revenue to continue to develop community-based services in Monmouthshire in recognition of the impact of this service change.

"As far as we as a Government are concerned, of course, our dementia plan looks to strengthen services within the community, to enable admissions to hospital for dementia to either be avoided or result in a shorter stay."

The closure of the ward is part of a wider review of adult mental health care across Gwent, meaning there will be three inpatient dementia units at Ysbyty Tri Chwm in Ebbw Vale, St Woolos Hospital in Newport, and Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr in Ystrad Mynach, as well as a mental illness unit, at County Hospital in Griffithstown. The reorganisation is expected to save almost £850,000.

The health board, which has also said it has struggled to recruit staff for the units, has also said it developing more community-based care for dementia patients.