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Campaigner backs Mail over axe of vital scheme

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 23, 2014

Margaret Stanhope Centre

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A MENTAL health campaigner has spoken out after it was revealed that a vital transport scheme for relatives of mental health patients had been axed.

Dr Matt Long, founder of the now defunct Friends of Margaret Stanhope Forum, showed his backing for the Mail after South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust was exposed for having ended a scheme that helped people from the town visit loved ones being treated in Stafford and Tamworth, following the closure of Burton’s inpatient psychiatric facility in 2012.

Health bosses said the scheme was only ever set to run for six months – a claim that has been shot down by Burton MP Andrew Griffiths.

Dr Long told the Mail: “I applaud the Mail for exposing that this vital scheme is no longer available to people in the town and holding health bosses at the trust to account following the closure of the Margaret Stanhope Centre.

“We now all have to start working together to offer people with mental health issues all the help they need.”

Mr Griffiths is still waiting for a response from health chiefs after raising his concerns with them.

He said: “When the Margaret Stanhope centre was closing one of the major concerns raised in letters, email and at public meetings was if patients had to be taken outside the area, how would relatives visit them?

“When people are suffering as a result of mental health issues, the support of loved ones is vital and can be very beneficial to their recovery.

“We were made cast-iron promises that a system would be put in place, which we had in black and white in writing, to make sure that people could easily visit people in need.

“Clearly, this is no longer the case.

“If they have shut it down through the back door with no consultation it is a shocking state of affairs.

“We deserve an explanation, and if it has been withdrawn there has been a cover-up and we need answers.

“This situation is not acceptable in any way, shape or form.”

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