A Dundee MSP has publicly apologised to a grieving father after failing to attend a meeting he set up with health board chiefs.
Dundee West MSP Joe Fitzpatrick has said sorry to Phil Welsh, the Dundee man behind mental health awareness campaign Not In Vain For Lee, after he failed to show at a meeting arranged by his office alongside NHS Tayside chief executive Lesley McLay.
Mr Welsh had wanted to meet with Mr Fitzpatrick and Ms McLay to discuss the “under-provision” of mental health services in the city.
Mr Welsh’s son Lee committed suicide last month and had suffered mental health problems for more than a decade.
He said: “I turned up at Ninewells on Friday afternoon to meet Mr Fitzpatrick and Ms McLay.
“The parking spaces we were provided with were even reserved and provided for under the MSP’s name.
“We waited for some time for Mr Fitzpatrick to arrive, with Ms McLay even suggesting we postpone the meeting for a time in order for him to turn up.
“An hour after I walked out of the meeting with NHS Tayside, I received a phone call from Mr Fitzpatrick’s assistant, telling me there was a mistake made with his diary, which is why he didn’t show.
“It felt, at the time, an appalling way to be treated.
“A public apology will in some way make amends and I can appreciate mistakes can happen, but for him to not contact me until afterwards was upsetting.”
Mr Fitzpatrick said: “I was very sorry to hear of the family’s loss and met with them to offer support and assistance.
“My office helped to organise a meeting for the family with the chief executive of NHS Tayside, as well as the medical director, in order that the family could put their questions to NHS Tayside. Unfortunately due to a diary mistake I didn’t realise the meeting was last Friday until after it had taken place.
“I have since spoken with Mr Welsh to apologise for what was an honest mistake.
“I’d now like to take this opportunity to apologise to the family in public. I am deeply sorry that I missed the meeting.
“I am keen to follow up on any action points arising out of the meeting and to assist the family in any way that I can.”
Mr Welsh also received an apology from the health service for the “callous” response he received in the wake of his son’s passing.
The Dundee Health and Social Car Partnership responded to Mr Welsh’s claims about his son’s lack of support by saying there was a “wide range of mental health services available” in the city.
The Not In Vain For Lee initiative was set up to raise awareness of mental health services. The website, notinvainforlee.co.uk, allows people to share their stories and provide contact details for services in the city and beyond.
“If we can help just one person who is battling with mental health issues and prevent them from coming to harm, then it will not have been in vain,” he said.
A fundraising evening was recently held in Lee’s memory at the Royal Tay Yacht Club, which Mr Welsh thanked people for attending.