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MP says town will live to regret clinic closure

Wednesday 29th August 2012 (Andrew Griffiths)

BURTON will ‘rue the day it lost its access to local mental healthcare provision’, according to the town’s MP.

Andrew Griffiths spoke after health chiefs were forced to admit the Margaret Stanhope Centre would close by the end of September.

“This is very sad news but news we knew was inevitable,” said the Conservative, who was at the vanguard of the Mai l’s campaign to save the psychiatric unit.

“I think we will look back in a few years’ time and rue the day Burton lost its access to local mental healthcare provision.

“Burton is a growing town and the pressure of modern life means access to mental healthcare will be more and more important to us all.

“Losing the Margaret Stanhope is the wrong decision.”

Mr Griffiths spoke after South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust was forced to give an update to East Staffordshire Borough Council’s health scrutiny committee after reneging on its promise to provide one.

Dr Neil Brimblecombe, the trust’s director of nursing and chief operating officer, said the Margaret Stanhope had stopped accepting inpatients, who were instead being referred to units in Tamworth and Stafford, and that community care was being put in place.

Mr Griffiths said that given health chiefs’ previous behaviour, he was not surprised the committee had been forced to drag the update out of them.

“All the way through this process (health chiefs have) displayed an arrogance that has shocked and disappointed me and their latest actions come as no surprise,” he said.

Mr Griffiths spoke after trust chief executive Neil Carr replied to his request for details of the transport service health chiefs promised to introduce to meet the Margaret Stanhope’s closure conditions.

Mr Carr said the scheme was open to eligible primary carers, including those without access to appropriate transport and/or who were experiencing financial difficulties, who could request return taxi journeys from their homes to Stafford or Tamworth.

“Whilst I’m pleased that at least we have details of the scheme, it’s clear there will be a group of people who will be severely disadvantaged by the closure of the Margaret Stanhope,” Mr Griffiths said.

“If, as we believe, this will apply to people only on benefits and low income, there will be a number of hard-working families who will be forced to spend substantial amounts of money on travel if they want to see their loved ones and nurse them back to health.”

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