NHS Tayside (Mental Health Services)

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

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Photo of Mary Fee Mary Fee Labour

In closing the debate, I begin by thanking the families and campaigners who have been at the heart of the debate. Their dedication to tackling and highlighting the problems in NHS Tayside will help to save lives. I also thank members throughout the chamber for their thoughtful and considered contributions to what I think has been a powerful debate.

The Government’s amendment to the motion is an indication that it has listened to the campaigners. The stigma of mental ill health and the lack of support and understanding for people who suffer with mental ill health still, unfortunately, pervade our society. We cannot allow that to go on; we must change it.

Many of the points that I will make in my closing remarks have been made by other members, but they are worth repeating. A number of colleagues have praised the lost souls of Dundee group. My colleague Lewis Macdonald, who was contacted by a constituent about the issue, said that patients and families do not just want to hear answers, but want and need to be involved in framing the questions.

Jenny Marra spoke of the crisis in mental health and drug-related deaths in Dundee. Along with Richard Leonard and Anas Sarwar, I welcomed the review into the Carseview centre that was announced last week. However, we knew then that that would not go far enough and that a wider and fuller public inquiry into NHS Tayside was required. I am glad to see in the Government amendment the commitment to an inquiry, but that inquiry must be open and accountable and must fully involve all the families.

Public services are at the core of what the Government provides, and those services should always be accessible when they are required, and be transparent and accountable when things go wrong. It should not take a question being posed to the First Minister for the Government and NHS Tayside to sit up and listen. Families such as those who are in the gallery today have been demanding answers for far too long. The death of David Ramsay is tragic not only because of the missed opportunities to prevent it, and his niece and father should not have had to travel to Parliament to be listened to.

Although the focus of the debate is NHS Tayside, there are problems across Scotland with mental health services, particularly for children and young people. We know that waiting times are on the increase for an initial appointment for child and adolescent mental health services, and that more than a quarter of children are not being seen within the 18 week waiting time target. Recent statistics show that 10 out of 14 health boards are not meeting CAMHS targets. I hope that the Audit Scotland review of CAMHS, which is due to be published this autumn, will show that improvements are being made. If they are not, action must be taken immediately to support our young people. The tragic loss of Lee Walsh has brought about a campaign for better mental health services in Tayside. Lee died of suicide last year and the website “Not In Vain for Lee” tells us that Lee suffered

“mental health problems on and off for over nine years, being prescribed various alternative medications, but never actually receiving a particular diagnoses.”

I close by focusing on the Government amendment, which commits to a full inquiry, and on the comments that were made by my colleague Anas Sarwar in his opening remarks, when he said that an independent inquiry must have an independent chair, must include the families in agreeing the terms of reference and must ensure that the families are part of that process. The inquiry must be open, transparent and inclusive. Those steps will be a starting point in rebuilding trust and confidence in mental health services.

My final thanks and admiration must go to the families. Parliament has listened to them, and I am confident that we stand united in our desire to achieve justice for them all. Thank you. [