NHS Tayside (Mental Health Services)

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

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Photo of Miles Briggs Miles Briggs Conservative

I grew up in Perthshire, and I know many individuals and families who have experience of NHS Tayside’s mental health services. In the majority of cases, they have received help, support and treatment, which has helped them to get their lives back on track. However, I also know of cases and individuals who have been failed, and questions remain over what has gone wrong. NHS staff in Tayside work hard to deliver the best mental health services that they can in the fact of huge resource pressures and patient demand.

I pay tribute to the families who have joined us today in the public gallery and to all those who have spoken out. It cannot be easy for them as they seek the answers that they so desperately need about how their loved ones have not been given the care and support that we all expect our NHS to provide.

It is right to condemn the personal attacks that the campaigners have faced, mainly on social media, simply for speaking out. That has been shocking to witness. I particularly pay tribute to Gillian Murray and the lost souls group for the campaign that they have undertaken to seek the answers that families in Tayside so desperately need.

Last Friday, when NHS Tayside announced a limited inquiry into Carseview in Dundee, I said that it was clear that that was not acceptable to families across Tayside. I made that view known to the Scottish Government.

It is clear from many families across NHS Tayside that there remain many unanswered questions. From the outset, it has been clear that a wider independent inquiry is needed to find out what went wrong in so many cases at a number of facilities across the region. That inquiry must truly address the problems and get answers, ensuring that we prevent such mistakes from ever happening again in the future.

I know from my colleagues who represent the Mid Scotland and Fife and North East Scotland regions in the Parliament that they have cases of individuals and families where mental health services have failed. In some cases, suicides have taken place in NHS facilities, when individuals have meant to be under the safe care and supervision of NHS Tayside.

From the outset, Scottish Conservatives have focused attention on supporting the families and ensuring that their voices are heard. That is what my amendment seeks to achieve in securing a wider independent inquiry across NHS Tayside—one that will allow for concerns to be investigated comprehensively in order to restore faith in services among patients and their relatives and friends. The prevalence of suicide in Scotland, especially among men, should focus all our minds.

Like the previous two speakers, it is my belief that there will be learning for other parts of our health service from such an inquiry’s findings—lessons that must be learned and services that must be improved. No more individuals should face crisis and then be denied help.

I say to the cabinet secretary that it is imperative that families who are seeking answers are included in the establishment and remit of the wider inquiry. I would like to endorse Anas Sarwar’s points on the five principles of the inquiry.

We know that we face a crisis in our mental health services across Scotland. The cases that have come to light in NHS Tayside have demonstrated that in the most concerning of ways. Those who have campaigned to make today’s debate happen and for this Parliament to listen should be valued for what they have done to open up the issues to the rest of the country.

Above all, today cannot be about shutting down concerns; it must be about opening them up. That is what I have sought to deliver today and it is what I hope our Parliament will deliver.

I move amendment S5M-12107, to insert after “the Parliament”:

“notes the concerns expressed by families regarding the treatment of their loved ones within mental health services in NHS Tayside, access to facilities and the limited scope of the inquiry announced by the board; believes that a wider independent inquiry across the region would allow for these concerns to be investigated comprehensively in order to restore faith in these services among patients and their relatives and friends; further believes that it is important that families seeking answers are included in the establishment and remit of a wider inquiry;”.