Local MP Richard Arkless has demanded that the Dumfries & Galloway Health Board show the people of Wigtownshire the ‘detail’ of the plan of what will replace Darataigh, the intermediate Dementia Care Centre in Stranraer facing closure.

Mr Arkless said:

“The Health Board are telling us that they will replace Darataigh with better care in the community and more availability in Care Homes – but we are yet to see the detail of that plan. Something which I find unacceptable given the circumstances.”

In his letter to Jeff Ace the Chief Executive Mr Arkless said that affected families, staff and members of the public need more information than ‘the vague briefing initially provided’ by the Health Board. He added that he had spoken to some of the units staff and patients and none of them were aware of any detailed plans; they have been left in complete limbo.

Darataigh closed suddenly in November 2015 following the failure of a boiler unit. The dementia patients were then transferred to Midpark Hospital in Dumfries, 72 miles away. Following a public outcry at the abrupt closure of the unit, the Health Board repaired the boiler and said that Darataigh would remain open for a further six months.

However, since November no 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.

In his letter Mr Arkless demanded that Mr Ace answer some key questions including:

“How much money will be freed up by the units closure and how will this be redistributed? How will we beef up the care teams and wider access to care in the community? What are the plans for each of the staff? We are beyond the point of vague principles, we need the detail.”

Mr Arkless added:

“The Health Board is embarking on a steep uphill struggle to convince the people of Wigtownshire that the decision to close Darataigh is the correct one.

“I along with local councillors and elected members of both Parliaments, remain completely unconvinced of Mr Ace’s plans and remain determined to fight them.

“I am particularly concerned as members of staff have informed me that they have little or no knowledge of the detailed plans and arrangements surrounding the closure of the unit or their future – nor have I.

“A proper consultation period with all affected parties must begin in earnest and dementia patients should be referred there instead of spending extra time in Dumfries. The staff at Darataigh are incredible, and if anyone can input experience into these plans, it is them.”

Mr Arkless concluded that a detailed plan of the future of community based mental health care provision in Wigtownshire must be circulated to all parties concerned as a matter urgency.

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