Politicians, councillors and residents have united to demand that Dumfries and Galloway Health Board reconsider their decision to close Darataigh Mental Health Unit in Stranraer.
Richard Arkless MP, Aileen McLeod MSP and councillor Iain Dick were joined by around 100 local people at the rally which was held next to St John’s Castle in the centre of Stranraer last weekend.
The gathering took place to send a clear message to the health board; Stranraer cannot afford to lose the Darataigh unit and the vital services that it provides.
MSP for South Scotland Aileen McLeod who spoke at Saturday’s rally said:“We need more NHS services to be provided in Stranraer to save people the long trip to Dumfries and back.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to about the NHS in Stranraer over the past five years is clear about that, the Scottish Government is clear about that, services should be provided to people at home or in a homely setting. That means in Stranraer.
“It is also clear that we need services for people with dementia living in Stranraer which we don’t currently have. We need emergency mental health cover and proper access to respite care.
“There is an opportunity to extend the debate beyond the use of a single building and we must take it, people who live in the west of this vast constituency deserve better access to NHS services in general.”
Darataigh closed suddenly in November 2015 following the failure of a boiler unit.
The dementia patients who used the unit were transferred to Midpark Hospital in Dumfries, 72 miles away.
Following a public outcry over the abrupt closure of the unit, the health board repaired the boiler and said that Darataigh would remain open but only for a further six months.
However since reopening none of the original patients have been returned or referred back to the unit and more and more intermediate care services are being made available at Midpark in Dumfries.
The health board is now undertaking a consultation on the future of mental health care provision in Stranraer and Wigtownshire.
This will continue until the end of May when a final decision will be made.