People living with serious mental health issues in Tayside are being “forgotten about” due to psychiatry staff shortages, a patient has claimed.
Sean Aiton waited almost eight months to see a psychiatrist after being referred by a GP to Dundee’s Alloway Centre in November 2018.
The 27-year-old, who suffers from depression and anxiety, eventually managed to see a consultant the following August before the doctor was signed off sick and as a result, has not seen a professional since.
Sean said: “It’s crushing and demoralising. It took from November 2018 to August the following year to get an appointment.
“I haven’t been seen since that August appointment either, it’s a total disregard almost.”
Frustrated with the service, Sean eventually made a formal complaint to NHS Tayside outlining his concerns over the length of time he had been waiting to see a consultant.
In a letter seen by the Tele, the health board responded to the complaint by highlighting that the service was having “significant problems in recruiting and retaining psychiatric staff”.
The letter then went on to say that the service is reliant on temporary staff, who can decide to move on to others posts resulting in appointments being cancelled at short notice.
But Sean feels the response is not good enough and argued there is a real danger this could lead to people falling through the cracks.
The Douglas resident added: “If I had a broken leg, for example, I would get to the hospital and would have been seen to straight away.
“I am lucky that I have the support of my family and friends but what about other people who might not have that? I feel like we are being forgotten.”
A spokesman for NHS Tayside said: “In Dundee, and across Tayside more broadly, we have been working hard to fill our consultant psychiatry vacancies and to cover any gaps in service that result from staff absence.
“By the end of this week we will have four full-time consultants working across Dundee and we continue to hold extra clinics on Saturdays to help ensure that everyone who needs specialist medical review has access to it.
“It is important for people to be aware that we deliver our mental health care and treatment through multi-disciplinary teams and anyone waiting for a consultant appointment – and who is concerned about their wellbeing – should make contact with their community mental health team to access advice and support.”