The Nelson-Marlborough District Health Board says elderly mental health patients will be better off under a plan to replace an outmoded hospital with a new specialist unit.
The DHB has taken a further step towards closing Alexandra Hospital in Richmond, which cares for 20 people with long-term mental illness or advanced dementia.
The board has called for a detailed proposal to replace it with a new acute psychogeriatric unit at Nelson Hospital.
DHB chief executive John Peters says the move is not about cost-cutting and the amount of money spent on psychogeriatric care will not be cut under the new plan.
A spokesperson for the Nurses Organisation, Jackie McGrath, says staff at Alexandra Hospital have years of experience dealing with difficult patients, and other facilities may struggle.