Local politicians have been swift to condemn the decision to close the Mulberry unit at Stracathro Hospital after its fate was finally sealed.
Mairi Gougeon, SNP MSP for Angus North and the Mearns, described the decision as “bitterly disappointing” and called for assurances that Stracathro has a future.
She branded the public consultation over Mulberry a “tick box exercise”.
North east Conservative MSP Liam Kerr slated the SNP government for not stepping in earlier to address problems with the recruitment of junior doctors adding: “If steps had been taken to recruit junior doctors, none of this would be necessary.”
Mrs Gougeon is to visit Stracathro next week to seek further assurances over the range of services the hospital will continue to offer.
She said: “No matter how it is dressed up by the IJB or NHS Tayside, this is a real blow to Angus and will make in-patient care for many of my constituents much harder to access.
“It will also substantially increase journey times for friends or relatives to visit patients and it comes at a time where the number of mental health cases are on the increase.”
“Angus spoke the loudest in the consultation with 43 per cent of all responses coming from the area.
“Despite the fact a clear majority of responses were unified in their opposition to the closure of the Mulberry Unit, that proposal is now going ahead.
” It was an uncomfortable inconvenience to the IJBs and NHS Tayside and it wasn’t conducted in a fashion that allowed alternative views to be considered.
“They will now have to deal with the fall-out from this decision.”
She said the public needed to be reassured Stracathro has a future.
“I have had written assurances from both the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport and NHS Tayside’s chief executive that this is not under threat,” she added.
Mr Kerr said: “The integrated joint boards faced a terrible choice which had already been made for them.
“There was a consultation for people to get involved in, but it was terribly flawed from the start.
“It’s impossible to ask a question when there’s only one answer: a preferred option that means Angus patients and their families lose local treatment.”
Angus Conservative MP Kirstene Hair said: “Since being elected I have been inundated with the concerns of constituents that we are about to lose a vital part of our local health service.
“This is not a ward which is underused. Lives are saved at the Mulberry on a daily basis.
“This is yet another blow to local healthcare and a sad day.
“Those affected will face unnecessary barriers to treatment as public transport links between north Angus and Ninewells Hospital are not up to scratch – and almost impossible to manage for those living rurally.
“The health board has to look again at how it engages with the public on these major decisions to ensure my constituents they are not being ignored,” said Ms Hair.
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