A former Perth councillor claims members of a health body are making a “rod to break their back” by not consulting the public on controversial proposals which include closing beds for acute psychiatric patients.
Joan McEwen, who is now a carer, said she does not understand why the Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership have not made more carers and people involved with mental health issues aware of their plans.
NHS Tayside is undertaking a review of adult mental health and learning disability inpatient services, with its programme team gathering clinical, workforce and financial information regarding four options before making a decision.
However, Ms McEwen, a former Labour councillor in Perth, feels there has been a “general lack of engagement” by NHS Tayside in letting the public of Perth and Kinross know about the whole process.
“I think NHS Tayside is doing this the wrong way round,” she said.
“Now that stakeholders have been consulted and responding, I think it would be much more helpful to the team if the public was now consulted before that team considers a preferred option so it can read and consider all those responses as well, before it sets about identifying an option. Engaging the public after its made its recommendation denies such a process.
“Acute adult psychiatry bed provision at Perth’s Murray Royal Hospital is very worryingly under review as one of the options and I think because of this the Perth and Perthshire public should know this and have the opportunity to comment on that and the other options before any recommendations or preferences are made to the powers that be and Perth and Kinross Integrated Joint Board.”
She continued: “”Perth has a huge rural and remote rural hinterland and the environs furth of the city itself are soon to be subjected to massive population and housing growth.
“In my experience of dealing with the public there is an expectation these days of being involved in shaping thinking processes which affects profound local community provision (such as vital bed provision for example) before recommendations are made, not after. ”
However, Rob Packham, chief officer for Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership, said there had been a “wide range” of stakeholder and staff engagement throughout the course of the two-year mental health redesign project.
“Engagement events were held last summer to complete the next stage of the redesign project,” he said.
“The purpose of the events was to identify and develop options to provide general adult psychiatry (GAP) inpatient services on two sites in Tayside and consider options for future learning disability inpatient services as requested by Tayside NHS Board.
“Stakeholders from Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross were invited to the workshops and each event was attended by around 90 people, including service users, carers, voluntary, third sector and partner organisations, as well as doctors, nurses, psychologists and support staff from NHS Tayside along with the Social Care Partnerships.”
Mr Packham said the programme team is still deciding on a preferred option.
This will be presented to NHS Tayside and Health and Social Care Partnership boards by March to seek agreement for a three-month period of wider stakeholder consultation.
In a separate matter, NHS Tayside has already decided to move the crisis response service at Murray Royal Hospital to Carseview from February 1.