‘Say no to closure of Mulberry Unit’

David May and Mike Rumbles outside the Susan Carnegie Centre
David May and Mike Rumbles outside the Susan Carnegie Centre

Two North-east politicians are saying ‘no’ to the possible closure of the mental health unit at Stracathro Hospital.

Angus Councillor David May and Mike Rumbles MSP have reiterated their opposition to the possible closure of the Mulberry Unit.

Cllr May, a member of the Angus Integration Joint Board, stated at the board’s meeting on 31 August his continuing disagreement with any possibility of the essential mental health unit closing.

He said the Mulberry Unit, which is located in the Susan Carnegie Centre at Stracathro Hospital, provides “vital” acute mental health services to adults.

He continued: “Service users would be forced to uproot to Dundee for services should the unit close.

“Closure of the unit would also have implications on crisis help and community-based care in the rural areas of Angus.

“Two of the four options for restructuring mental health services in Tayside presented to the board mean the closure of this essential facility that serves our rural communities.

“This is not only a disaster for Angus but goes against the Scottish Governments own 2020 vision for service provision.

“If patients are required to be sent to Dundee this would make travel and costs for staff, family and friends more prohibitive, which can only have a negative effect on a patient’s recovery.

“It is clear that the main basis for this change in mental health service provision across our region is the lack of staff. There is a problem recruiting all levels of mental health staff and the age profile is a major concern, with a large number of staff eligible to retire in the next 10 years.

“The First Minister needs to focus on matters closer to home and take radical steps to sort out this mental health staffing crisis which the SNP administration has presided over for the last 10 years.”

Mr Rumbles, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for the North East, added: “The underfunding of mental health services continues to be a major issue, for which the SNP government must accept responsibility and commit to serious investment.

“This is the only way to ensure that our communities receive the services they have been promised in the 2020 vision, which they rightly deserve.”

A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said: “No decision has been made about where adult mental health inpatient services will be provided in the future.

“NHS Tayside is committed to working alongside the Health and Social Care Partnerships and key stakeholders to develop the most effective community-based service delivery models as part of the reconfiguration of Adult Inpatient Mental Health and Learning Disability Services.

“A number of recent engagement workshops have taken place with service users, carers, staff and partners coming together to shape future mental health services in Tayside.

“Following on from these events, a detailed report on the options appraisal process went to the Board of NHS Tayside. Further information on each of the preferred options is now being collated to support the decision making process.

“Each of the Integrated Joint Boards and NHS Tayside Board will be involved in agreeing a new model for future inpatient services that will be consulted on widely with stakeholders.”