Campaigners claim a damning review into mental health services across Tayside proves the region is “falling far short” of what is needed.
And fears have also been raised that more preventable suicides will happen before measures are put in place to prevent them.
A report, by Health Improvement Scotland (HIS), found “significant concerns” with adult mental health community services, which are managed by NHS Tayside and health and social care partnerships.
It is the latest blow for the local service’s reputation following a string of damaging inquiries and reports in recent years.
HIS raise questions over the area’s “crisis resolution” service, and claims there are inconsistencies in access to treatment depending on where people live.
Phil Welsh, who has been campaigning for a 24/7 crisis centre since the suicide of his son Lee, said: “The review, specifically in regard to immediate crisis support, still leaves the region far short of what is needed – namely a non-referral 24 hour crisis centre.
“What is offered in the report exemplifies that no real change will be forthcoming.
“While the review goes on to acknowledge that the partnerships and NHS Tayside recognise that they are struggling to provide the appropriate levels and quality of crisis response – but what is really alarming is the vagueness and empty gesture that `steps are being taken to address this’.
“The public have a right to understand `what steps` will actually be taken. This review does nothing to assure the people of Tayside that mental health provision will change,
“Will we as a region suffer more preventable suicides until these ‘steps’ are put in place?”
HIS also criticised the reliance on temporary staff, which the organisation claimed was unsustainable in the long-term.
And the organisation has recommended the health board and partnerships address these issues urgently.
However, the report did acknowledge that Tayside was not the only board facing these challenges, and that it was a nationwide problem.
And it also praised the commitment and dedication of staff, in the face of a number of challenges outwith their control.
NHS Tayside has issued a joint response with Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross health and social care partnerships.
It maintains they will continue to work to keep their promise of listening and acting on what requires to be done to improve mental health care in the region.
A spokesman said: “We will now ensure that the actions and recommendations set out in the report are progressed through the improvement work already under way across mental health services Tayside.”
The statement added: “This HIS review coincided and overlapped with the final report of the Independent Inquiry into Mental Health Services in Tayside which was published by Dr David Strang in February 2020.
“The findings released are reflected in the 51 recommendations of the independent inquiry’s report, and they will be taken forward in our Listen Learn Change draft Action Plan, which was submitted to Scottish Government in June 2020.
“Our final action plan will be completed later this month and include any further recommendations from this review, alongside the detailed work which is being progressed to improve mental health services across Tayside.
“We made a promise to the people of Tayside that we will ‘Listen, Learn and Change’ in response to the independent inquiry and the further actions which we will take from today’s report reinforce that pledge.
“As we move forward we will continue to refine our plans and ensure that these voices feature strongly and influence the new Tayside-wide Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy which will be published in early 2021.”
Mental health campaigner Gillian Murray, whose uncle, David Ramsay killed himself after being refused treatment at Carseview Centre, said the report highlighted the “same old rubbish.”
She said: “Given Health Improvement Scotland undertook multiple reports and investigations that proved worthless – hence the need for a truly independent inquiry – I have little faith in the substance or impartiality of their reports.
“Thankfully David Strang will be returning early next year to see which, if any, of his recommendations have been implemented. That will be a report worth reading.”
Richard Peter–Tenant, who formed Dundee men’s mental health charity Walk and Blether said he supported any effort to improve mental health services in Tayside.
Richard said: “It’s at least encouraging that a further review has been carried out into what is available in Tayside.
“I am a strong supporter of a 24-hour mental health crisis centre for Dundee.
“One was needed before but I think it is going to be even more necessary as we begin to come out of this situation.”
Richard added: “If this report is listened to, along with the recommendations made in the Strang Report then maybe we can go some way to resolving Dundee’s mental health crisis.”
The Independent Inquiry Into Mental Health Services in Tayside
In February of this year The Independent Inquiry Into Mental Health Services in Tayside published its Trust and Respect report and called for an urgent overhaul of the practices.
In May 2018, concerns were raised in the Scottish Parliament about the provision of mental health services in Tayside.
An inquiry to examine the accessibility, safety, quality and standards of care provided by all mental health services in the region was commissioned as a result.
The final report, Trust and Respect, was published on February 5 and was chaired by David Strang CBE.
It contained 51 recommendations to improve mental health care in Tayside and highlights numerous failings, including a breakdown of trust, a failure to deliver services, a lack of psychiatrists, a lack of leadership and a lack of accountability.
Addressing his findings at the time Dr Strang said the board had “lurched from crisis to crisis”.
Dr Strang said he’d been disappointed NHS Tayside appeared to not have listened and did not learn from previous incidents.
He said: “On too many occasions, Tayside has adopted a defensive position, giving the impression of wanting to protect its reputation at all costs.”
Dr Strang said, while he couldn’t make any promises NHS Tayside would act on his recommendations, he was confident there would be strict monitoring of what the board was doing and he vowed to revisit the situation.