An SNP MSP will lodge an official complaint against NHS Tayside’s handling of a consultation on the potential closure of Angus’ mental health facility.
MSP for Angus North & Mearns, Mairi Gougeon, believes the three-month consultation on mental health and learning disability services which ended on this week was “confusing, complex and closed” to constituents.
The politician, who has been a vocal critic of the health board throughout the consultation process, will raise her concerns with the Scottish Health Council.
Ms Gougeon says NHS Tayside has “engineered the process” to promote its preferred option to close the Mulberry Unit and transfer it to the Carseview Centre in Dundee.
She said: “The vast majority of constituents who have contacted me have expressed serious concerns over the way NHS Tayside has conducted its consultation.
“I relayed some of those fears in a letter to NHS Tayside’s Chief Executive Lesley McClay during the process but I do not feel that my specific complaints were at all addressed.
“As a result, and due to my belief that NHS Tayside has failed in its duty to adhere to the guidelines over a ‘major service change’, I will be making an official complaint to the Scottish Health Council.”
The MSP believes that there was a considerable amount of non-relevant information and a significant lack of detail in the 823-page document, while viable alternatives were dismissed during the option appraisal without qualification.
The document claimed 35.5% of mental health staff will retire at 55, a third of consultants are due to retire within five years and two thirds of newly qualified nurses would prefer to work in Dundee.
Mrs Gougeon said: “I believe these assertions could have unduly influenced the decision-making process of consultees and were very misleading.
“There were a number of instances in the consultation where I feel key financial information was either missing or misleading.
“For this consultation to meet Scottish Health Council guidelines it is crucial that all information is available and accurate and I remain unconvinced that this is the case.”
Perth and Kinross Integration Joint Board (IJB) approved the three-month consultation and Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership’s chief officer, Robert Packham responded to the complaint.
He said: “Public consultation has given people opportunity to share very valuable feedback. A suite of documents was produced to support the consultation, available both online and in hard copy, including a short summary document outlining the main points of the proposal that was being consulted on.
“The programme team worked closely with the Scottish Health Council throughout the process to ensure that all engagement around this programme met national guidance and followed best practice.
“Since the consultation started at the beginning of July, the team held more than 70 engagement events in locations across Angus, Dundee, Perth and Kinross, talking with a wide range of groups and organisations with an interest in mental health and learning disability and our staff.
“Not everyone agrees with the proposals and all views will be included in the final report with recommendations for the new service mode. This will be presented to Angus and Dundee IJBs and Tayside NHS Board before being considered for approval by Perth & Kinross Integration Joint Board in January 2018.”
We are aware of the concerns that have been raised by local people during this consultation. Integration Joint Boards have a duty to ensure that communities are engaged in the planning of local services and that people’s views and needs are taken into account when decisions are made.
A spokesman for the Scottish Health Council said: “The Scottish Health Council’s role is described clearly in the Scottish Government’s guidance for NHS Boards, which sets out our remit in working with NHS Boards when they propose changes to services.
“As any final decision on the proposals in this particular case will be made by Perth and Kinross Integration Joint Board, rather than NHS Tayside, the Scottish Health Council does not have a formal quality assurance role in this process. We have however offered advice on involving people and have highlighted the importance of listening to people and ensuring their views and concerns are fully taken into account and responded to as this process moves forward.”