First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she fully expects NHS Tayside to take on the recommendations of a mental health report which are currently being “ignored”.
Labour leader Richard Leonard raised the concerns of family members and the lead consultant involved in the independent review of mental health services in Tayside during first minister’s questions.
Dr David Strang, who chaired the report, made a single recommendation that services across Tayside should not be centralised.
The Courier reported earlier this week that the health board had effectively ignored Dr Strang’s plea and was carrying on with plans to bring them together in Dundee.
Mr Leonard said: “Not only has NHS Tayside failed to carry out that review. Worse still, the board is pressing ahead with the centralisation of services.
“This is an independent inquiry set up because of the deep concerns of families who have lost their loved ones through suicide. Why is there no urgency? And why is the sole recommendation so far of this independent inquiry being wilfully ignored?”
Mr Leonard quoted David Ramsay’s niece Gillian Murray, who told the Scottish Labour leader: “NHS Tayside refuse to listen, they refuse to change, they are being allowed to carry on, business as usual. Things are getting worse at NHS Tayside, not better.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “Let me be very clear, when an independent inquiry makes recommendations, it’s the expectation of me and of the Scottish Government they are fully taken account of by NHS boards and I would expect NHS Tayside to take account of the recommendations made by David Strang.
“It is my expectation health boards properly take account of recommendations like this one in the decision-making processes that they are required to undertake.
“I will certainly consider carefully the points that were raised by Richard Leonard today.
“It’s important that we listen to the lived experience of patients and of their relatives, and to do that in good faith and in all sincerity.”
Ms Sturgeon said arrangements were being put in place for Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman to meet Mr Ramsay’s family and others who called for the initial inquiry.
Dr David Strang, who is finalising his exhaustive study of local mental health services, has spoken of his frustration that his call for a wider, more comprehensive review has not been heeded.
He was appointed to lead an independent inquiry after pressure from families who claimed their loved ones had taken their own lives over issues at Carseview.
Dr Strang, a former prison inspector, said in an interim report released in May that proposals to centralise services at the Dundee unit should not go ahead before a wider review is carried out.
Gordon Paterson, Chief Officer of the Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership, which is responsible for mental health services, said: “The continued implementation of the approved Mental Health and Learning Disability Service Redesign Programme was agreed following discussion at the Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership Integration Joint Board (IJB) on September 27.
“The interim report of the independent inquiry made a recommendation which we have taken into account, however the IJB considered the suspension of the current design programme would introduce risks to patient safety and compromise clinical care and it determined that the redesign should continue.
“The Independent Inquiry into Mental Health Services in Tayside has yet to publish its final report and any recommendations the Inquiry makes will be fully considered in future service improvement and strategic planning.”