PLANS to close a mental health rehab centre in St Albans have been condemned.

The Causeway, a vital service which provides in-patient care to 14 residents, could be closing its doors in March this year.

Despite Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT) and Hertfordshire County Council, which jointly run the service in King Harry Lane, denying rumours, the Review is led to believe all residents at the centre were informed last week of the plans.

County councillor for St Albans Chris White, who has also heard the news, has slammed the proposals and fears if a new service is to be set up elsewhere it will not be within a sensible travelling distance.

He said: “This is a particularly worrying situation from the outset because of the way the information has been relayed.

“New admissions had ceased at the end of last year so there was obviously some sort of plan in the pipeline but this is the first we hear about it.

“The trust claim not to know what the alternatives will be but they must have some idea.”

Councillor White said he hopes residents are informed of the future plans for The Causeway, which he described as a “vital” service.

He added: “This is a vital service and it goes without saying that this is a group of residents which are particularly vulnerable. So we need to make sure we don't throw in extra anxiety with these proposals.

“I do have fears over the location of the alternative site because it's happened in the past where services have been relocated to areas which are unaccessible by service users.”

Mum-of-three Marianne Boyle contacted the Review last week expressing her anger over the proposed closure of the site.

Her 20-year-old daughter, who was admitted to The Causeway in April last year, described the decision as “catastrophic” for the residents.

She added: “The service has been second to none. She has received one-to-one meetings, we go to counselling and we have all been supported.

“What are we going to get when it closes? The fact is it can't close, it will be catastrophic because there are no other services of its kind in Hertfordshire – it is the only one.”

Richard Upton, spokesman for HPFT said: “Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services in Hertfordshire, and Hertfordshire County Council and NHS Hertfordshire, which commission and fund services, are working together to review the provision of health and social care provided by HPFT.

“The review includes consideration of a range of services which provide alternatives to inpatient care and promote independence, both areas that service users have told us they wish to focus on.

“In light of the review and until any decision is made, new admissions to The Causeway ceased at the end of last year.

“Current residents of The Causeway continue to have their needs met and residential contracts honoured. HPFT, HCC and NHS Hertfordshire are committed to ensuring that service users and their carers continue to be involved in the discussions and that any changes do not compromise their care".