Mulberry campaigners meet Health Minister

Shona Robison
Shona Robison

Campaigners fighting to keep the Mulberry Unit open, have met with the Scottish Government’s Health Minister, Shona Robison.

The Mulberry Unit is temporarily closed on safety grounds - due to a shortage of junior doctors - but question marks remain over it’s long term future going forward as NHS Tayside carry out a review into their three mental health bases in Perth, Dundee and Stracathro.

And with Angus North and Mearns MSP Mairi Evans continuing to fight against the closure, she took a key campaigners to meet with Dundee City East MSP Robison, to state the case to keep Mulberry.

Jenny Laird of Forfar and Brechin’s Dennis Groark held crunch talks with Robison after Evans requested the meeting during First Minister’s Questions in January.

The protestors are urging NHS Tayside not to make their consultation process a ‘tick-box’ exercise.

Mr Groark said: “I’m very grateful to Mairi Evans MSP for arranging our meeting with the Health Minister. Throughout this whole process, we’ve had fantastic support from Mairi.

“She clearly cares about the future of Mulberry and the impact closure would have on us as patients and, even now, she refuses to give up hope. We will keep on contesting this decision in the knowledge that we have the moral case and Mairi’s backing but I fear the campaign to stop Mulberry from permanent closure is going to be in vain.

“NHS Tayside stated quite clearly in their board meetings last year that one of their three units in Perth, Dundee and Mulberry would close – and Mulberry looks like it is being singled out. Now, astonishingly, they have changed this to ‘no decision has yet been taken.’

“We cannot have a consultation process that is merely a tick-box exercise.”

Miss Evans has continually opposed the closure since NHS Tayside board agreed in March 2016 that one of three mental health units – from Perth’s Murray Royal, Dundee’s Carseview and Stracathro’s Mulberry – would have to close.

As a Brechin and Edzell councillor, she urged Angus Council to oppose the closure proposals and vowed to battle against them when elected as MSP in May 2016.

She added: “I’m grateful to the Cabinet Minister for meeting with me and a few of the campaigners to discuss Mulberry.

“There is no doubt that the unit is under severe threat of closure but the one thing I will not do is give up without a real fight.

“We have been promised a proper consultation on the long-term future of Mulberry. This must be a completely open and transparent process and take proper cognisance of the views of all consultees.

“It has to be far more substantive than the previous report that we saw from NHS Tayside on March 2016. It cannot be a tick-box exercise and it can’t be a consultation that is done with a predetermined aim to close Mulberry.

“Neither can the fact that Mulberry is currently closed on safety grounds be used as evidence in favour of permanent closure.

“Mulberry is a fantastic, modern facility that provides superb care for mental health patients from a location that is both rural but easily accessible from the A90.

“I still remain firmly of the view that NHS Tayside should be looking at ways to retain the Mulberry Unit.”