The imminent closure of a mental health clinic in Market Harborough will be a “disaster” for the area, local families say.
The Welland Centre, on Fernie Road near the station, will shut on July 21, the Mail understands. It deals with more than 80 patients a week or 4,000 appointments a year.
Some patients have been told by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) that they must travel to Wigston in the immediate future - a two-bus, one-and-a-quarter hour journey by public transport.
The 500 south Leicestershire patients the centre helps have problems including bipolar disorder and severe depression.
The Kibworth father of one patient said this week: “The closure of this centre would be a disaster. The person who made this decision should be ashamed. I hope no one dies because of it.”
Market Harborough patient Maeve Brannen (18) has started a petition to stop the closure. She agreed to be named and pictured by The Mail, saying: “This is a personal issue for me, and it means a lot to me.”
Maeve added: “It seems to me the health authority wanted to keep this quiet for as long as possible, thinking mental health patients won’t stand up and make a fuss.”
And Harborough MP Sir Edward Garnier said: “I urge the LPT not to abandon Market Harborough. I will do all that I can to ensure people in and near to Market Harborough can get proper access to the service even if it’s not in this building.”
In a very brief statement to The Mail, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust would only say: “We are proposing to move our clinics to a new venue from around the middle of July. We are relocating clinics locally.”
The Kibworth father of a long-standing Welland Centre patient told The Mail: “This closure will impact massively on patients’ lives and the lives of their families and carers.
“It will lead to more and more people missing appointments and ending up in hospital.
“Vulnerable people need help and support, not extra stress and pressure.”
Maeve said: “I suffered from anxiety and depression. I’m in a better place now, thanks to the help I got.
“I feel that closing access centres like this makes it so much more difficult for the many people who struggle in silence to get support.”
Maeve’s Facebook page Save The Welland Centre, from where you can sign a petition, is: www.facebook.com/savethewellandcentre
Sir Edward said: ““Clearly it is no good moving the Welland Centre to Wigston. People in Market Harborough need an accessible service there.
“I have written to the chairman of the Trust on behalf of several affected constituents and telephoned the office but have yet to receive a substantive reply.”
An NHS spokesman told the Mail: “The Welland Centre would need major improvement work to provide modern clinical facilities. The building is not owned by LPT.
“We will soon be launching an engagement programme to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to share their views, ask questions and provide feedback on the planned changes.”