A campaigner hoping to prevent the closure of the Mulberry Unit at Stracathro Hospital has said it’s “fast becoming a struggle”.
Dennis Groark, who has been campaigning alongside Jenny Laird to keep the unit, has urged people wanting to ensure the future of the unit to make their voices known.
Concerns about the future of the unit, located in the Susan Carnegie Centre at Stracathro Hospital, were raised earlier this year.
The health board approved the proposal earlier in the year that General Adult Psychiatry inpatient services should be provided from one or two locations in Tayside and requested that an option appraisal should be carried out looking at two site and one site options.
In a report put to the board at the March meeting, one of the options presented would see the Mulberry Unit relocated at Carseview Centre in Dundee.
Dennis and Jenny have been at two consultation events in June, however he referred to them as “a paper exercise meant to go through the motions and then go ahead with their original decision”.
He continued: “At both consultations, we both felt a degree of intimidation and it was stressful and anxiety ridden for us as we tried continually to put forward our case. After it finished, there was an air of despondency on the drive back to Angus.”
An NHS Tayside spokesperson said: “The recent workshops that were held at the Invercarse Hotel and at The Steeple Church in Dundee were well attended with a range of stakeholders represented.
“Both events were facilitated by an independent external facilitator who encouraged open discussions and ensured that everyone had the opportunity to share their opinions.
“Feedback forms were completed by those attending the event and the majority of the responses returned were positive with participants reporting they had felt supported throughout the process and had opportunities to influence discussions and were given time to express their views. Following on from these events a detailed report on the options appraisal process will now go to the Board of NHS Tayside, further information will be collated thereafter to support the decision making process, including a period of wider stakeholder consultation and engagement.”
While Dennis said they were “exhausted”, he added that they are “determined to pursue this” until the unit is saved. He added: “We could give up now, but the campaign to save Mulberry ward is so important for the people of Angus who have mental health problems and their families. We have support here and there, but we need more. Please if you care, write to Mairi Evans your local MSP or even to NHS Tayside. And when it comes to a public consultation, please come and make your voice heard.”