The Department of Health has backed calls for mediation to end a dispute which has dogged Kingston’s patient watchdog since its inception last summer.

K-Link’s independent steering group members were “sacked” by letter in January after months of stalemate with Kingston Citizens Advice Bureau (KCAB), the organisation which holds the purse strings.

Welcoming the news Sandra Berry, chairman of the K-Link steering group, said: “The Department of Health have agreed to our request to set up a mediation process. I am always very hopeful. There is no point in getting depressed.”

Pippa Mackie, chief executive of KCAB was not available for comment.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “The department does not mediate in local disputes but would encourage any parties involved in a dispute to settle the matter as quickly as possible so that legislative requirements are met.”

Two Kingston councillors, Paul Johnston and Mary Reid, have also been tasked with investigating the dispute.