The campaign to save Stracathro Hospital’s Mulberry ward from closure has gained additional momentum after weekend consultation events in Brechin and Montrose.
Angus North and Mearns SNP MSP Mairi Gougeon organised the public events – another is scheduled for Forfar this Saturday – in what she said was an effort to “cut through” the massive amount of material produced as part of the NHS consultation on the review of adult mental health provision
It is feared it will lead to the Angus facility being shut and services transferred to Carseview in Dundee.
The politician praised the bravery of some who have been treated within the Mulberry unit for finding the determination to speak up in support of the Angus ward’s retention.
Mrs Gougeon has branded the NHS consultation over-complicated, and believes there is an “inherent bias” in the health authority’s material towards the preferred option of Mulberry closure.
“The level of material that has come out for people to consider is just far too daunting,” said the MSP at the weekend Brechin City Hall event.
“My aim through these events is to break down all the options and set them out clearly for those who come along.
“I also wanted to organise events that were accessible to the public. NHS Tayside has organised public consultation events but a number of these are weekdays during the day, and I felt weekends were a time when more people may be able to attend.
“If we don’t get people to speak up then it is a lost opportunity,” she said.
Dennis Groark, 69, from Brechin, who has been a Mulberry patient, said: “It can be very difficult for people who have experience mental health difficulties to speak out, but it is important that they, or their families, do that.
“The main thing which concerns me is that I just don’t feel there is genuine engagement.
“I have had a number of problems and I am so grateful to the NHS for all of the help I have received, but when I see that they are trying to do I find it totally incoherent.
“I think NHS Tayside made up their mind a long time ago what they wanted to do and the whole thing is based on centralisation.”
The health authority will run consultation events across the region throughout this month as part of what it has said is a consultation to deliver “modern, high quality, clinically safe and effective mental health and learning disability services for patients across Tayside.”