The possible closure of an Angus mental health facility has been branded “absurd” by an Angus MSP after it was revealed NHS Tayside will be paying for the unit for the next 25 years.
The health board’s annual accounts for 2011/12 show that the purpose-built facility, which only opened in 2012, will not be paid off under PFI arrangements until the year 2042.
A three-month public consultation on mental health and learning disability services is currently under way, running until tomorrow (Tuesday October 3).
NHS Tayside’s preferred option would see the Mulberry Unit closing with acute mental health care transferred to the Carseview Centre in Dundee.
NHS Tayside state any suggestion that the ward would no longer be used if the mental health unit closed was “simply not true” as it would be used to provide other health and care services instead.
However, Mairi Gougeon, SNP MSP for Angus North and Mearns, said of the contract: “This highlights the absurdity of any proposal to close the Mulberry Unit.
“It cost a considerable amount of money when it was purpose-built.
“Clearly, any proposal to close the unit just five years after it first opened, would have to be considered a huge waste of public money.
“The fact that this facility will still have to be paid for several decades after it potentially closes is ludicrous.”
An NHS Tayside spokesperson refuted Mrs Gougeon’s claims that the unit would no longer be used and said: “The Susan Carnegie Centre is a state-of-the-art facility at Stracathro Hospital and is a vital asset from which we will provide high-quality health and care services for the people of Angus into the future.
“There are, in fact, three wards at the Susan Carnegie Centre delivering inpatient care. Two Psychiatry of Old Age wards which are fully operational today and the Mulberry Ward which is currently transferred to the Carseview Centre to ensure it can be safely staffed.
“If, following the current Tayside-wide mental health and learning disability services public consultation, it is decided that general adult psychiatry inpatient care will be provided at the Carseview Centre for all Tayside patients, then the existing Mulberry Ward at the Susan Carnegie Centre will be used to provide other health and care services. To suggest the ward area would remain closed and unused is simply not true.
“Any reprovision of the ward at Susan Carnegie will be done with the involvement and engagement of the local Angus people to ensure their particular health needs are being met and they can help shape the future models of care.
“NHS Tayside can reassure the people of Angus that both the Susan Carnegie Centre and Stracathro Hospital feature very strongly in the future plans for Tayside health services.
“At NHS Tayside’s regular meeting with local MSPs and MPs on Friday September 29, Chair of NHS Tayside Professor John Connell gave that unequivocal assurance to those members present. He also stated that the modern facilities at the Susan Carnegie Centre will be fully used to provide local health services for many years to come.”