09:00 - 01 September 2007

The closure of Holly House inpatient beds has stunned people across Gloucester.The fight to save the beds at the Coney Hill facility was one of the most publicised in the county and campaigners believed they would win.

Earlier this year, Holly House was given a stay of execution with the news that it would not close for 18 months at least while beds at Charlton Lane were made ready.

And campaigners thought this might have been an indication of a positive outcome.

But yesterday's announcement has shocked and upset many people - particularly supporters, patients and their families.

Jean Humby, 63, lives in Hucclecote and is chairman of the Gloucester branch of the Alzheimer's Society.

Her late mother, Doris, who had Alzheimer's, attended Holly House.

Jean said: "My mother went for day assessments at Holly House and very much appreciated the service it provides.

"Holly House was extremely useful in introducing my mother to day care.

"I feel very sad because it is a retrograde step - it is taking services away from people's localities.

"I think it is going to put a huge burden on people who are caring for people with dementia.

"There are people in far away areas of the county who will struggle on for a longer time than they should because they don't want their family member to be admitted to a unit so far away.

"And the people who are admitted there will feel abandoned by their families.

"It will be difficult for people to have frequent visitors.

"Also, we are going to lose a huge number of skilled carers.

"All units have got people who are very dedicated and have specific skills. These skills will be lost and the carers are devastated.

"I have seen them in tears. We will end up with some carers working in Sainsbury's.

"It is an absolute tragedy."