Mulberry delay criticised by politicians

David May (left) with Mike Rumbles
David May (left) with Mike Rumbles

Two local politicians have spoken out about the delay in the decision on the future of the Mulberry Unit.

Retiring councillor David May said: “It is appalling that this decision has been delayed yet again. I suspect that this is political judgement rather than being in the best interest of patients, their families and the units staff. It has long been suspected that the direction of travel is towards the closure of this unit and it’s about time that local people were given some clarity.

“A decision to close the unit would be completely wrong, for the people of rural Angus and the staff.”

Mike Rumbles, North East MSP, added: “I have previously raised concerns with the Scottish Ministers regarding the future of services at Stracathro Hospital and the Mulberry Unit, and I will continue to do so. The underfunding of mental health services continues to be a major issue right across the North East, for which the SNP government are entirely responsible.”

Robert Packham, chief officer for Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership, which hosts General Adult Psychiatry inpatient services in Tayside, said: “A contingency plan was put in place in February because a national shortage of trainee psychiatrists has changed the number of junior doctors available to NHS Tayside. At the same time, NHS Tayside and the Health and Social Care partnerships across Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross have been preparing for three months of formal consultation on the preferred option for the future of inpatient mental health and learning disability services in Tayside.

“Health and Social Care partnerships and NHS Tayside follow formal national guidance in designing changes to public services. They have to consider specific guidance on public consultations in the period immediately prior to elections. The timing of the consultation changed for the local elections in May and had to change again with the announcement of a general election. While these delays may affect the period of the interim move of Mulberry Ward, any change is more reliant on the numbers of junior doctors available to work in Tayside at the next rotation.

“The need invoke the contingency plan in February 2017 demonstrated the real challenges clinical staff face on a daily basis. NHS Tayside has been working over the past few years to redesign inpatient services for people with mental illness or learning disability. Extensive public consultation resulted in several options being developed jointly by service users and specialists in mental health.

“The redesign process is subjected to rigorous scrutiny from a wide range of public and professional stakeholders and following that, to three months of formal public consultation when people in Tayside will have opportunity to share their views once more. The preferred option for the future design of the services will be announced around the same time we are recruiting junior doctors for the next rotation. The outcome of these two processes will help to determine the period of time for which Mulberry Ward will remain at Carseview.

“Mental health and learning disability services are provided in a variety of settings within the wider communities and when necessary, in hospital. Our priority is to provide safe and effective services and specifically to make sure those who have the most complex health requirements have access to high quality care when it is required. We continue to keep a close eye on the effects of the services moves, both clinical staff and managers are working to maintain the best possible care for people living across Tayside.”