BURTON’S MP has requested details of the transport service health chiefs promised to introduce to meet the Margaret Stanhope Centre’s closure conditions.
Andrew Griffiths asked for details of the proposed link from Burton to Tamworth and Stafford in a letter to Neil Carr, chief executive of South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Burton’s psychiatric unit.
The Conservative reminded the health chief that the Common Board of Staffordshire Primary Care Trusts (PCT) rubberstamped the proposal to axe the centre ‘subject to commissioning a transport service to meet the needs of users’.
Mr Griffiths, a leading critic of the closure move, said the pledge was made in a letter from the PCT chairman Alex Fox, former Tory leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council.
“As I am sure you can appreciate, the issue of transport provision for families wishing to visit inpatient relatives is of paramount importance,” the MP told Mr Carr.
“It is vital that families are able to visit their relatives as far afield as Stafford or Tamworth without being prevented through cost or practical considerations.
“I would be grateful if you could clarify what arrangements are to be put in place for families wishing to visit their loved ones who are receiving respite care for mental health reasons.”
Mr Griffiths revealed his letter’s contents after Helen Ashley, chief executive of Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Queen’s Hospital and owns the Margaret Stanhope building, told a health scrutiny meeting that the trust had been told the psychiatric services would cease in October should certain standards be met — comments reported by the Mail.
Mr Griffiths said: “It now appears an imminent timescale for the closure of the Margaret Stanhope has been announced, yet we still have no idea about the measures the PCT is putting in place to address the issue of transport.
“We heard of the difficulties and the expense of travelling from Burton to Stafford to visit loved ones and the PCT assured us that they could overcome these problems.
“However, with just a couple of months until the Margaret Stanhope shuts, we still have no idea what they are putting in place.
“All the medical evidence shows families play a hugely important role in the recovery of people suffering from mental health issues and ensuring the family can visit is an absolute necessity.”
The MP sent his letter on July 16 but is still awaiting a response.