PATIENTS, families and the wider public can now air their views on proposals for the redesign of older adults mental health services in Gwent, which include closing a 15-bed dementia ward at Chepstow community hospital.

A public consultation programme - running until January 26 - has been launched by Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.

And a series of 13 consultation events across Gwent begin next week, where people will be able to view the proposals and quiz health board managers about them.

It is proposed that in future, Gwent will have three dementia units - at Ysbyty Tri Chwm in Ebbw Vale, St Woolos Hospital in Newport, and Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr in Ystrad Mynach - and a single functional mental illness unit, at County Hospital, Griffithstown.

This is the preferred option of five considered by the health board, and it would involve the closure of St Pierre Ward at Chepstow community hospital.

If approved, patients would be treated in future at Ysbyty Tri Chwm in Ebbw Vale, or at St Woolos Hospital in Newport, depending on where in Monmouthshire they live.

Chronic difficulties in recruiting sufficient nurses to staff older adult mental health inpatient units has focused health board minds on the need to redesign older adult mental health services.

It is also seen as a way of developing more community-based services - seen as vital if future demand is to be met - and of enabling the creation of specialist centres of excellence for inpatient mental health services, along the lines of Sycamore Ward at St Woolos Hospital in Newport.

The health board recognises that closing St Pierre Ward will result in travel difficulties for some Monmouthshire patients, and the issue will be raised during the consultation process.

Public consultation events will begin on Tuesday November 14, 10am-11.30am , at Chepstow leisure centre. Others follow on:

* Wednesday November 15, 10am-11.30am, Shire Hall, Agincourt Square, Monmouth; and 2pm-3.30pm Abergavenny Leisure Centre.

* Wednesday November 22, 2pm-3.30pm, Llanhilleth Institute.

* Thursday November 23, 10am-11.30am, Ebbw Vale leisure centre.

* Wednesday November 29, 10am-11.30am, Lysaghts Institute, Corporation Road, Newport; and 2pm-3.30pm, Christchurch Centre, Malpas Road, Newport.

* Thursday November 30, 2pm-3.30pm, Riverfront Theatre, Kingsway, Newport.

* Tuesday December 5, 10am-11.30am, The Olive Tree, Edlogan Way, Cwmbran.

* Thursday December 7, 10am-11.30am, Pontypool leisure centre.

* Monday December 11, 2pm-3.30pm, Penallta House, Tredomen Park, Ystrad Mynach.

* Thursday December 14, 10am-11.30am, Newbridge Memo; and 2pm-3.30pm, White Rose Information Resource Centre, New Tredegar.

The consultation document, and further information, is available at