Consultation over mental health services in Tayside has been branded “a sham” after NHS Tayside effectively sounded the death knell for the Mulberry Unit at Stracathro Hospital.
The psychiatric unit was temporarily closed in February because of a shortage of junior doctors but it now appears set to be permanently shut down.
NHS Tayside had already begun reviewing its mental health services after deciding it was no longer sustainable or safe to run General Adult Psychiatry (GAP) inpatient services at three different sites across Tayside: the Mulberry Unit, Carseview in Dundee and Murray Royal Hospital in Perth.
Despite a vociferous campaign to retain services at the Mulberry Unit, NHS Tayside has now said its preferred option is to create a single site for GAP admissions at the Carseview Centre.
Learning disability inpatient services would be centralised at Murray Royal Hospital but it would also lose GAP services.
If the plans go ahead, two psychiatry of old age wards will remain in the Susan Carnegie Centre.
The final decision on whether to approve the plans will fall to Perth Integrated Joint Board on June 30.
North east Scotland Conservative MSP Liam Kerr said he believes NHS Tayside has always intended to close the Mulberry Unit.
He said: “There was always a sense that we were being fobbed off and the fate of the Mulberry Unit had already been sealed.
“The consultation has been little more than a sham, and I am furious that my worst suspicions have now been proved correct.
“I have submitted further parliamentary questions to ascertain exactly when the Scottish Government was made aware of this decision.
“I would urge people locally to make their feelings known by writing directly to both NHS Tayside and the Health Secretary Shona Robison.”
Mairi Evans, SNP MSP for Angus North and Mearns, added: “The decision is now over to the NHS Board and the three Integration Joint Boards of Angus, Perth and Dundee.
“I would ask them all to consider very carefully the grave impact the closure of the Mulberry Unit will have on mental health care for people across Angus.
“How that decision is taken is also one that concerns me. There have been a number of changes to the make-up of the IJBs following the council elections in May and it’s important that all new members are fully briefed over the enormity of this proposal.
“It also appears that the final say on the closure of the Mulberry Unit will lie with those in the Perth IJB.
“I am concerned that, while they are consulted throughout, members of the Angus IJB will not have the final word over the potential closure of a facility that opened just six years ago at the cost of £20 million.
“What happens if the members of the Angus IJB oppose the closure but the Perth IJB agree to it? Are the people of Angus then being truly represented?”
NHS Tayside medical director Professor Andrew Russell said: “It has long been recognised that providing GAP services across three sites is not a sustainable model of care for our patients.
“Patient safety is our overriding priority and to ensure we can continue to deliver a high quality of care, it has been necessary to look at the way we provide these services and look at alternative models of care through the redesign programme.
“From this it has become clear that a one-site model for both General Acute Psychiatry and Learning Disability services would be the most sustainable option.
“We would encourage members of the public to take part in the consultation and share their views on the proposed future models of care for mental health and learning disabilities services inTayside.”
If the plan is approved consultation will be available at www.taysidementalhealthredesign.scot.nhs.uk from July 3 and run until October.