The chief of a patients’ rights group has called for a “no compromise” outcome to a mental health inquiry after NHS bosses were able to suggest amendments to its first critical report.
The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (Alliance) represents patients, families and carers in the independent inquiry into mental health services in Tayside.
The organisation says it had been unaware that NHS Tayside had been given the opportunity to correct what it saw as “factual inaccuracies” in the inquiry’s interim report until it was reported in the Tele last week.
Tayside’s suggested changes – blasted as “cherry-picking” by families of suicide victims – led to the report being delayed.
The health board maintains that such fact-checking procedures are “routine” for any reports from external bodies – but the move has caught upset families off-guard.
Professor Ian Welsh OBE, chairman of the Alliance, said there could be no obstacles laid in the way of a completely impartial report from the inquiry team.
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Prof Welsh said: “We have just been made aware of this but our interim view is that the inquiry has conducted itself from the beginning with integrity and independence.
“The process undergone here is routine and we believe, on an initial review, that the changes are not material to the raft of interim recommendations made.
“It remains, crucial, however, that the next stage of the inquiry continues to reflect the experiences and input of families affected.
“We will be seeking an early opportunity to discuss this first hand with the families involved.
“In any event, there can be no compromise on delivering the final, key recommendations from the inquiry.”
Input from NHS Tayside, sent by chairman John Brown to inquiry chairman David Strang in May, led to several changes to the document.
Edits made by the inquiry team included the health board being given more credit for creating the inquiry and passages describing poor access to services and ward closures being watered down.
A health board spokeswoman said: “Ahead of the publication of the interim report, NHS Tayside was sent a draft report for factual checking.
“The additional information demonstrated progress and improvements which had been made by mental health teams.”
A spokeswoman for the inquiry said: “The chairman of the inquiry retained complete discretion over the content of the report throughout this process.
“He continues to maintain full independence from NHS Tayside as the inquiry moves to the next stage of its work.”