A North East MSP has called for clarity on the future of an Angus mental health unit amid growing concern locally at the lack of provision.
Scottish Conservative MSP Liam Kerr raised the issue in parliament this week after NHS Tayside took the decision to close the Mulberry Unit at Stracathro Hospital.
The health board is facing a junior doctor staffing crisis, with only 18 full-time junior doctors are available and a requirement for 31.
For the time being, general inpatient services have been transferred in Dundee at the Carseview Centre.
Mr Kerr spoke at parliament after reading The Courier’s story about Monifieth mental health campaigner Ben Lawrie.
Mr Lawrie, who attempted to take his own life in 2013, described mental health services as “horrifically understaffed and underfunded.”
More than 2,400 people have now signed a petition to keep the Mulberry Unit open and Mr Kerr said Mr Lawrie’s story “brings home the human impact of these cutbacks”.
Mr Kerr said: “I wanted to raise this issue in parliament as there is a danger after the initial press reports about the closure of the unit that it then falls off the radar.
“I want NHS Tayside to be in no doubt about the strength of feeling locally on this issue.
“If the Mulberry Unit closes permanently, then there will be no adult psychiatric admissions ward in the whole of Angus.
“Reading the story of Ben Lawrie from Monifieth brings home the human impact of these cutbacks.
“I sympathise with the health board to some extent as there is clearly a staffing shortage for this particular area.
“However, the whole region is suffering due to a lack of resources and the Scottish Government must take responsibility for poor workforce planning.
“The SNP has been in charge of health services in Scotland for the last ten years, so can have no-one else to blame for the problems we are now seeing in areas like Angus.
“I will continue to raise the future of the Mulberry Unit with the Health Secretary at Holyrood in an effort to protect this vital local service.”
The Angus facility, which provides inpatient mental health treatment, is to close from February 1 because of a lack of junior doctors.
The service is being transferred to Carseview in Dundee for an unspecified period.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said NHS Tayside has assured the Scottish Government that the closure is a “temporary measure”.