Nicola Sturgeon risks condemning health facilities in Angus to their fate by stonewalling pleas for action, say the Tories.
Mairi Gougeon, the SNP MSP, called on her boss at First Minister’s Questions to intervene in the “box-ticking” consultation on the closure of Stracathro Hospital’s Mulberry psychiatric unit.
But the FM faced criticism from the Tories for only taking action when pressed on the issue at Holyrood’s televised showpiece, despite fears being raised at cabinet six weeks ago.
Ms Sturgeon then swerved an invitation to issue an immediate appeal to Tayside bosses to save an Angus hearing charity.
Doctor shortages at the mental health in-patient facility in Angus forced staff and patients to be moved to the Carseview Centre in Dundee on February 1.
Ms Gougeon said a consultation on making the move permanent breached the rules.
“It offers no alternative to closure, is inaccessible and appears to be a
box-ticking exercise,” the Angus and North Mearns MSP told the FM.
“Will the First Minister commit to urgently investigating those concerns, to ensure that NHS Tayside meets its obligation to provide robust and transparent consultation?”
Ms Sturgeon said the health secretary “will certainly relay to NHS Tayside the concerns that have just been expressed”.
She admitted those concerns were raised at a Scottish Government cabinet meeting in Montrose on August 15.
“We will make sure that those concerns are raised and that the health board responds to them,” she added.
Kirstene Hair, the Conservative Angus MP, said: “Only now, after being put on the spot in the chamber, has there been any commitment to act.
“This ponderous approach, which is representative of the SNP, risks the
closure of the only acute mental health facility in Angus, as well as Hear to Help, which aids more than 600 service users.”
Ms Sturgeon was urged at FMQs to take action to halt the imminent closure of Angus Hear to Help.
Liam Kerr, the North East MSP, pleaded with the FM to ask NHS Tayside to stump up the £17,000 to save it.
Ms Sturgeon said she will make sure it is looked into, adding: “If there is
anything further that the Scottish
Government can do to help, we will
certainly be happy to do so.”
Health bosses in Tayside have defended the consultation saying they have held more than 50 engagement events.