Relocation of local services will be ‘a travesty for people struggling with mental health’

The Carseview Centre, beside Ninewells Hospital

Tayside health bosses are set to press ahead with the relocation of major mental health services, in the face of widespread opposition.

A consultation on moving all acute mental health services for the region to Dundee’s Carseview Centre — resulting in the closure of the recently renovated Mulberry Unit at Stracathro Hospital — ended in October.

The survey also asked for views on the relocation of learning disability services from Carseview and Strathmartine Hospital to wards at Murray Royal Hospital in Perth.

Service users, the public and community groups from Dundee, Perth and Angus all voiced their disapproval of the plans — but health bosses at the Perth and Kinross Integration Joint Board, which will make a final decision on the plans in January, have indicated they intend to carry out the “necessary” changes.

A draft feedback statement said: “It is clear from the consultation that the majority of people would prefer to receive their health care close to where they live.

“The challenge to mental health services is balancing this with the need to provide safe inpatient services which are high quality and provide best value for money.”

During the feedback, 57% opposed relocating Tayside’s acute mental health services to Carseview, in Tom McDonald Avenue.

In addition, 59% of respondents were against relocating all inpatient learning disability services to Perth.

The Susan Carnegie Centre, at Stracathro Hospital, which houses the Mulberry unit.

Several community and support groups expressed “major” concerns about rural patients’ ability to access services should the move go ahead.

However, health bosses believe centralising services is the “safest, most sustainable” way of looking after patients.

The preferred option is expected to be formally approved in January, with refurbishment of Carseview commencing in November 2018 and the full “transformation” programme completed by June 2020.

Phil Welsh, whose son Lee was found dead at his home in Dundee’s West End in July having experienced mental health problems for a decade, said the plan was “a travesty” for people with mental health problems in Tayside.

Phil said: “What you are going to have is people who are experiencing mental health problems, that need to be seen by a crisis team rapidly, having to get to Dundee on a bus, in a taxi or relying on someone to give them a lift. It is putting stress onto people who are already in a very stressful situation.”

Mairi Gougeon, MSP for Angus North and Mearns, said: “I’m absolutely staggered that I am learning about this proposal through the media and not directly from anyone at NHS Tayside.

“However, sadly, it is in keeping with the way this entire consultation process has been conducted. I still firmly believe that the consultation process was biased, over-complicated and heavily weighted towards the preferred option.”

North East region MSP Liam Kerr described the consultation process as “a sham”.

He said: “I have real concerns about contingency plans if something goes wrong at Carseview, once the dust settles.”

Robert Packham (right), chief officer for Perth & Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “This feedback forms a critical part of the evidence which will be presented to the NHS Tayside board and the Angus, Dundee and Perth & Kinross Integration Joint Board during December and January.

“If the preferred option is approved, NHS Tayside and the health and social care partnerships are committed to continuing conversations with staff, service users, carers, partner organisations and local communities to address the issues they have raised and look at ways of minimising the impact of the proposed changes.”

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