The manager of a Perth-based charity has claimed NHS Tayside is “racing towards a precipice” by continuing with controversial proposals to centralise health services.
Susan Scott, of PLUS Perth, said despite an on-going independent inquiry into mental health services in Tayside taking place, health bosses are intent on following a “single-minded” agenda of centralisation.
The review of mental health provision could see services transferred from Perth’s Murray Royal Hospital to Carseview Centre at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. Mrs Scott will meet with David Strang, the independent chair of the inquiry, on Tuesday at Perth Royal Infirmary, but has cast doubt on whether NHS Tayside will act on his findings.
She said: “What’s most concerning to me is even if Mr Strang comes out with some very valid stuff, which I’m certain he will, will NHS Tayside listen? I really wish they would.
“However, judging by recent events it seems there is a single-minded agenda on their part. They are racing towards a precipice and gaining speed to boot.”
She continued: “The people who will suffer are the ones who find themselves in need of help and who will be the ones that will end up with substandard care.
“Once there is a problem managers disappear only for new ones to reappear and say they have inherited the problem which they are now fixing. But more problems are piled on older ones – a proper change is what is needed.
“Mr Strang has still to report his findings which could state that the model for centralising psychiatric beds at Carseview is heavily flawed and should not go ahead. As I have said many times, this move would take mental health back 20 years.”
A report providing an update on the independent inquiry, produced by the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, was shown to NHS Tayside board members last month. A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said the board’s chairman, John Brown, will act on the Alliance’s final report when it is published.
Mr Brown said: “Since we commissioned the independent inquiry, we have always said that one of the most critical parts of the work was ensuring that those people with real, lived experiences of mental health services would have a strong voice.
“The Alliance has provided the inquiry with a channel for people to be able to engage in a truly independent way through a stakeholder participation group. The outcomes of the inquiry will be a major influence on the future shape of mental health in Tayside.”