The body which oversees Angus health and social care has given its approval to a redesign of Tayside mental health provision which could sound the death knell for the Mulberry unit later this month.
However, members of the Angus Intergration Joint Board (IJB) have demanded the area is compensated for the closure of the ward at Stracathro.
And at a meeting in Forfar yesterday, they warned health bosses they must not ignore the range of concerns highlighted during the fight to retain the facility.
Closure of the Mulberry ward was identified as the preferred option in the programme to address what officials have described as an unsustainable model for mental health care across the region.
Perth and Kinross IJB will have the final say on the package later this month.
The move is likely to mean the axe for the Angus unit while general adult psychiatry acute care will be provided from four wards at Dundee’s Carseview Centre, along with learning disability inpatient services from three wards at Murray Royal Hospital in Perth.
Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership chief officer Robert Packham told the Angus meeting that all areas of Tayside would be affected by the change, but he urged communities to “take a leap”.
“The prize we seek here is to create excellence and look forward to a new type of mental health care that meets the needs of people, wherever they are,” he said.
Board members were told that 94% of such care is delivered at home.
However, Angus IJB chair Hugh Robertson said concerns raised during the consultation – such as the prospect of a three-hour trip to Perth to visit family members – could not be overlooked.
“I am persuaded that the preferred option remains the only sustainable model of delivery,” he said.
“There are however, significant areas of concern from an Angus perspective.
“There is a need for funding to be delivered for a seven-day, 52-weeks-a-year service in Angus….that should be made from any savings realised.
“Carseview needs improvement, including access to outdoor space and living accommodation. Access and transport is a legitimate concern and one which was raised frequently during consultation.”
Kirriemuir SNP councillor Julie Bell said local campaign groups had played an important role in pressing the case for Angus and the importance of developing a “gold standard” service.
“This is not a vote for the recommendation as such, but for potential of what we need to invoke to deliver for the people in Angus,” she added.
Arbroath Independent councillor Lois Speed said a key issue for her was the importance of improving the environment for recovery at Carseview:
“I think it’s not about looking at what is to be lost here, but more importantly what the gains are and I simply hope that the community enhancement works can be achieved,” she said.