Protests grow over Whitehill Day Centre closure at Kirkintilloch

Stuart McDonald MP presented a copy of the economic impact assessment to the Scottish Secretary
Stuart McDonald MP presented a copy of the economic impact assessment to the Scottish Secretary

Kirkintilloch East MP Stuart McDonald has written to East Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership to call for a rethink on plans to close a vital care service for people with dementia.

The SNP MP visited Whitehill Day Care and Short Break centre recently and spoke with staff.

Originally the new Whitehill Court housing development at Cleddens was to include new facilities for the day care centre.

However, as the Herald reported last week, the Health and Social Care partnership (EDHSCP) announced a change of plan late last year – with service users to be moved instead to a service in Birdston Day Care.

An online petition to save the Whitehill centre, set up by a family “devastated” at the news, has now gathered almost 1,800 supporters.

Mr McDonald said: “I’ve been contacted by a number of constituents with family members who are regular users of the day care centre.

“I have also been contacted by staff who are very concerned about what these changes mean for those they have been caring for over many years. I know these concerns are shared by others in both the public and third sector as well as in the wider community.

“The health and social care partnership engaged in absolutely no consultation with either staff, the community or families who use the services.

“It has simply been sprung upon everyone.

“Whitehill has an excellent reputation, with capacity to support dementia sufferers, including severe cases, which other providers would struggle to match.

“I also have serious questions about whether it is wise for day care and short breaks to be totally dependent on a single private provider for the whole of the east side of East Dunbartonshire.

“For all these reasons I am writing to the partnership to ask them to reconsider, and at the very least engage with families and staff about what they are proposing.

“Everyone was excited about the new facilities, and suddenly instead the service is being closed.”

Charlie Dickson, director of Housing and Care at Bield Housing Association, said last week that the decision by the EDHSCP to withdraw funding was “extremely disappointing”.

Susan Manion, chief officer of EDHSCP, said there would be “no reduction in service but a change of provision”.

She added that “service users and carers will be fully involved in this change.”