A leading mental health charity claims community organisations have been “buckling at the knees” due to a lack of resources and leadership at NHS Tayside.
PLUS Perth backed the findings of Dr David Strang who found grave failings in the authority’s handling of mental health care following a lengthy independent inquiry.
In his damning new report published last week Dr Strang said: “The most striking failure of governance of mental health services in Tayside is the lack of a mental health strategy.
“In the light of the reduction in the availability of consultant psychiatrists and the requirements for providing care and treatment for patients with mental ill health in the community, there is a pressing need for a significant redesign of how mental health treatment and services are to be delivered in the 21st century in Tayside.”
Susan Scott, development manager at Plus Perth and Kinross, said voluntary groups were having to plug gaps in services due to NHS Tayside’s lack of action.
Ms Scott said: “There has been far more resource directed to the 6% in-patient service than the 94% of people struggling in the community where services have been depleted.
“Many are turning to inadequately resourced third sector organisations for help, some organisations who are buckling at their knees with people asking for help.
“Lack of leadership in Tayside’s mental health services has been an extremely damaging aspect, which has finally been brought to light.
“I can categorically testify to the fact there has been no leadership for 20 plus years.”
The mental health charity warned Dr Strang’s review will have been a waste of time unless NHS Tayside follows his recommendations and implements changes across the service.
Ms Scott said: “People in Perth and Kinross and Tayside have endured disintegrating and substandard mental health services for 20 plus years now. Many lives have been lost. We cannot and must not go on accepting this.
“The measure of success will be indicated on June 1 when NHS Tayside are expected to present a detailed plan setting out the work to be undertaken. If this does not fully incorporate the culture change needed then it will be a waste of everyone’s time and will have failed.
“But if the willingness to change is there then there are many new voices who can assist the process. It is crucial that any collaboration includes people with lived experience, carers and the general public having an equal say, and that is a genuine equal say, not the tick box variety.”
An NHS Tayside spokesman said: “The extensive independent inquiry report relates to a range of mental health services across Tayside and contains a number of recommendations.
“NHS Tayside board, Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross Integration Joint Boards, and our partners will consider the report and develop a comprehensive action plan in response to the recommendations.”