Birmingham & Black Country

Willenhall residents concern over mental health unit

Residents are unhappy over plans to turn a former West Midlands care home into a small secure mental health unit.

Around 1,300 people living near Meadow House in Stroud Avenue, Willenhall, have signed a petition raising concern over its redevelopment.

The company looking to run the private psychiatric hospital hopes to care for up to 30 patients from early next year.

One local said they had received no information about the plans, describing them as "detrimental" to the area.

He said: "Why are they putting this in a residential area? Why not at a hospital site?

"There will be 30 patients so close to at least seven schools within a one-mile radius. I worry that they'll be able to escape.

"There's been no consultation and I hope the plans are thrown out."

'Safely locked inside'

The plans were submitted to Walsall Council by St Mary and St Michael Medical Company.

Director Dr Gurmit Mahay, a Wolverhampton GP, says they will deal with patients who have been released from mental hospitals.

Dr Mahay said: "These will be people who have suffered severe mental illness.

"Their acute condition will have been treated but they'll need a phase of integration back into normal life.

"I can understand [residents'] concerns and I can understand why people are anxious about this. I think the word 'secure' is the problem here.

"The access point will be controlled by staff. When people are more disturbed they'll be safely locked inside the facility.

"As they improve they may need to visit the local shop but they would go with a member of staff, they wouldn't just wander around."

Dr Mahay added that the company wants to organise a consultation with concerned residents within the next four weeks.

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