HEALTH bosses who axed inpatient mental health provision in Burton only months ago could now be forced to temporarily REOPEN the Margaret Stanhope Centre, we can reveal.
South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust confirmed to the Mail that talks were currently taking place which could see the site brought back into use while a multi-million pound investment in facilities in Tamworth and Stafford takes place.
No decision has yet been made, but Burton MP Andrew Griffiths, who battled for the centre to remain open, said he hoped the move may push heath chiefs towards a permanent return for the much-needed Stanhope facility.
He told the Mail: “Everyone in Burton still struggles to comprehend the closure of the Margaret Stanhope centre and now, only months later, the fact that talks about temporarily reopening the site are taking place show what a ridiculous decision that it was.
“Evidence since its closure shows that it had a dramatic and devastating effect on mental health care in Burton that may never ever be repaired.
“The provision we have now in the town is simply not good enough.
“I will be keeping a close analytical eye if the centre does re-open, so we can show health chiefs the impact and the upshot that it will have in the town and why they made the wrong decision to close it in the first place.
“It is plain and simple. The Margaret Stanhope should never have closed, the repercussions have been devastating and the potential for a temporary re-opening could give us the lifeline we need to show them just how vital a service it was and still needs to be in Burton.”
The doors slammed shut at the 17-year-old centre in September last year despite a campaign by the Mail and major players in the town such as Mr Griffiths and Dr Matt Long, founder of the now defunct Friends of Margaret Stanhope Forum.
At the time, the now defunct South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust and the foundation trust argued the Margaret Stanhope should close because sustained investment in community care had reduced the need for inpatient provision.
However, since its closure, heavy strain has been felt by the likes of Staffordshire Police who have been left picking up the pieces in the wake of the centre’s closure.
The potential re-opening came to light after the trust announced it was planning a multi-million pound investment to improve inpatient wards at St George’s Hospital, in Stafford and the George Bryan Centre, Tamworth.
The trust is currently considering options for temporary inpatient facilities while the refurbishment takes place and using the Margaret Stanhope Centre is a ‘possibility’, however, nothing has been confirmed as yet.
Chief executive Neil Carr said: “We are committed to moving with the times to provide the right service in the right place.
“This investment supports the whole pathway from community services to inpatient facilities.”