HOSPITAL beds are to be axed in Huddersfield as part of a major overhaul of services for the mentally ill.
At least one ward at St Luke's Hospital, Crosland Moor, is to close.
But precise details have not yet been revealed by the South-West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust, which took over care of the mentally ill when it was formed in April, 2002.
A spokeswoman for the trust - which covers Huddersfield, Halifax, Dewsbury and Wakefield - said the number of beds was being reduced across the whole district.
She added: "Numbers have not been worked out yet.
"But this is a positive thing for mental health services - although it is generally seen as negative."
Community services, in the form of outreach teams, early intervention and crisis resolution/home treatment teams are to be set up in place of the hospital beds.
The teams will offer 24-hour access to support, seven days a week.
The aim is to treat people at home and prevent their conditions worsening, so that spells in hospital are no longer needed.
"It is about helping people before they get to the stage when they have to go into hospital," said the spokeswoman.
She added that consultation had taken place with patients, their carers and organisations such as family doctors in primary care trusts.
"It is what service users want in terms of being close to their home, with easy access and flexibility," she said. "They want services to suit them."
The shake-up is in line with national targets for modernising services for working age adults. A health trust report said more "care places" were being created than the number of beds being lost.
"In-patient services are still highly valued and will be available to those who need them, but with advances in care they should be used as a last report when community support is not possible," the report added.
Carol McKenna, director of modernisation for the GP-led Huddersfield Central and South Huddersfield primary care trusts, said: "The plans to redevelop local mental health services will enable us to develop more appropriate services for patients, either in their own homes or communities, rather than in traditional hospitals."
"There have been extensive discussions, involving service users and their carers, as well as local health organisations, and these developments respond to those discussions."
But Mr Robin St Clair, chief executive of Huddersfield charity Concern for Mental Health, said it had not been formally consulted.
"We are the biggest independent provider of services for the mentally ill locally, so it would be surprising that the mental health trust wants to redevelop services without officially speaking to us," he added.
"Our organisation is based at St Luke's, so they may even have plans for the building we occupy."
Mr St Clair said people with mental health problems had differing views on the merits of hospital stays.
"Some people's experience of hospital admission is so unpleasant they would rather go anywhere else but hospital," he said.