NHS Tayside (Mental Health Services)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th May 2018.

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Photo of Anas Sarwar Anas Sarwar Labour

It is a relief to hear that you are still in a good mood, Presiding Officer.

Last week, the Parliament heard about the tragic case of David Ramsay. David hung himself four days after his second emergency assessment at the Carseview centre. David’s case is sadly not an isolated one. In the past year, there has been a 61 per cent increase in the number of suicides in Dundee. However, it is not about the statistics; it is about people’s lives. Many of the families that have been affected join us in the public gallery today. They have been campaigning for an inquiry into mental health services in Tayside for more than three years.

On Thursday, Richard Leonard raised the case of David Ramsay and the demands of the families at First Minister’s question time. On Friday, NHS Tayside announced a review into Carseview. Today, the Government’s amendment goes further, with a commitment to a wider inquiry into mental health and suicide prevention services across the region.

It should not take raising such issues in Parliament to get action. I hope that the debate will mean that our Parliament can genuinely unite in solidarity with the families’ campaign, after its three-year struggle. That will demonstrate to the families that we have listened and we have acted. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and suffering that they have gone through, so we cannot thank them enough for turning that absolute grief into a campaigning effort. It has been an effort to get answers about what happened to their loved ones, but, equally, it has been an effort to deliver change in order to prevent it from happening to anyone else. I thank each and every one of them. We cannot thank them enough.

Labour members are minded to support the Government’s amendment. However, like the families, we still have questions, and we need further reassurances and commitments from the Government. Crucially, the independent inquiry needs to be exactly that—a genuinely independent inquiry. The Government must recognise that there are clear trust issues with NHS Tayside, so it must appoint a genuinely independent chair. The families must also be included in the process of agreeing the terms of reference of the inquiry. We must ensure that the families are part of the process throughout the inquiry and that they feel included. The inquiry must be open and transparent, and it must include a public call for evidence. I emphasise that it cannot be those things only in words. The inquiry must be visibly independent, visibly inclusive, visibly open and transparent and visibly supportive of the families’ demands.