A young Dundee woman who recently opened her heart to the Tele about her mental health problems claims a report calling for overhaul “doesn’t go far enough.”
Health Improvement Scotland (HIS) published its review of adult mental health services on Thursday, where it detailed “significant concerns” with adult mental health community services, which are managed by NHS Tayside and health and social care partnerships.
The report calls for urgent changes, but Zana Grant says it should go even further.
It comes after the 25-year-old revealed her battle with severe depression, which has led to her trying to take her own life – most recently when she went into the Tay.
Responding to the report Zana said: “The report doesn’t cover nearly enough.
“I can definitely comment on the lack of community psychiatrists highlighted in the report.
“It’s mostly locums which of course affects the continuity of everyone’s care. A lack of communication between the multi-agencies happens regularly and I feel that this leads to subpar care when the correct information is not being documented correctly or being misunderstood.
“There were also a few months that Wedderburn had no psychiatrists at all and when I was requiring extra medication and so on, my community team were only able to point me to my GP, something which should have been swiftly dealt with by them.”
Zana said she was also concerned over the length of waiting times to be seen for assessment.
“Waiting times for psychological services aims to be 18 weeks, however, I have known people to wait a year or more for this type of input which is really detrimental and I feel like people in crisis are not getting the right care at the right time.”
She added: “As for the four hour wait target for crisis appointments – that is regularly breached as I have had to spend many an hour sitting in a police station waiting for crisis teams to see me, something which is frustrating and upsetting for the patient and the police.”
Zana said that she backed the campaign for a 24/7 mental health crisis centre in Dundee, which is being led by campaigner Phil Welsh.
She said: “I know that if there had been one it would at least have given me somewhere else to go during moments of crisis.
“It would have given me an option rather than feeling there was nowhere to turn when I was feeling like I wanted to end my life.”
NHS Tayside previously has issued a joint response to the HIS report, along 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.
Mental health under scrutiny
The report is the latest blow for the local service’s reputation following a string of damaging inquiries and reports in recent years.
It highlights an inconsistency in access to services throughout the region.
It states: “We saw that the crisis resolution and home treatment service continued to face many challenges, difficulties and complexities and as highlighted in previous HIS reports, there is still a lack of equity in relation to geographical location, speedy access and timely interventions for people to access care.”
HIS also criticised the reliance on temporary staff, which the organisation claimed was unsustainable in the long-term.
The report added: “Locum doctors provide valued input and complement the permanent workforce.
“However, too many ever-changing locum consultants, alongside a large number of vacancies tips the balance with regard to the provision of care into a significant risk for the service.
“Staff told us that they need to spend considerable time and energy supporting new locum psychiatrists and are obliged to accommodate the changes in working practices and patient care which a new consultant inevitably brings.”
HIS 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.
The report added: “However, how this is managed and the lack of leadership and management of this situation is an area of significant concern which NHS Tayside and the partnerships need to address as a priority.”
HIS also noted that during their time onsite they observed a “very committed workforce from all specialities across the service”.