Another vital Kingston care service is set to bite the dust.

This time it is health chiefs who are targeting Springboard, leaving local charities to come to the aid of the mentally ill.

The centre at Tolworth Hospital offers vocational opportunities to people with mental illnesses and learning difficulties to help them earn some money.

But when Kingston Primary Care Trust (PCT) unveiled £9.6m of cuts last year, it launched a public consultation over the possible closure of the site.

Throughout the process the axe has loomed large, with PCT chief executive David Smith admitting saving the centre was not an option at an earlier meeting.

This was effectively confirmed when he presented a draft consultation report to Kingston Council's health overview and scrutiny committee.

He said the consultation had shown most respondents wanted Springboard to become a social enterprise, backed by a charity, with more investment in the Early Intervention Scheme for younger service users.

No financial details were released and there were concerns Kingston Council would have to take on some costs. Councillor Rolson Davies pleaded with Kingston PCT to ensure funds would be available for the next five years.

On a positive note, most services look to have been rescued by the local action group, headed by Edward Davey MP and supported by the Cranfield Trust, which has entered advanced negotiations with three local charities about providing help.

The Fircroft Trust, Kingston Volunteer Service and Kingston Mind have all expressed a desire to offer some Springboard services, such as furniture restoration.

The group's own report is due to be published next week.

Mr Davey said: "There's a lot to be worked out but I am far more positive than I have ever been."

The PCT was left with egg on its face at the meeting, when it announced all personal assessments of service users had been completed.

One user promptly stood up and revealed he had not been assessed.

The embarrassment was compounded when the PCT attempted to pass the buck, claiming some Surrey service users might not have been assessed, at which point the user revealed he lived in New Malden.

It marked the end of a public consultation which drew criticism from many councillors on the committee.

Councillor Mary Reid said: "Right from the word go there was no information about what the costs will be, only the savings.

"We also said the document should be in plain English but it did not meet standards. There was too much terminology."

Councillor Mary Clarke said: "The consultation was more a persuasive exercise than free choice, especially when at one of the meetings David Smith said option one saving Springboard was not an option."

  • Kingston PCT's full report of the consultation will be available from Friday with the final decision made at a public meeting on Friday, May 23.