Health authorities in Tayside have been urged to act over a “simply scandalous” beds shortage that led to a psychiatric patient being turned away just days before he killed his best friend in a frenzied knife attack.
David Reid, who stabbed Mark Johnston more than 120 times at his Broughty Ferry home, was sent to Aberdeen in a taxi for treatment after telling friends and medical professionals demons were trying to harm him.
Reid had warned a psychiatric nurse in Dundee he was “receiving messages from God” but staff at NHS Tayside had to escort him to Royal Cornhill Hospital in Aberdeen because no psychiatric beds were available in the city.
He was able to discharge himself shortly after admission, as a consultant decided he did not meet the criteria for compulsory treatment. He went on to carry out the killing at Nursery Road on October 20 last year.
Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon described it as “one in a long list of failures in the treatment and care of mental health patients across Tayside”.
She said: “Mark Johnston’s death, and the circumstances surrounding it, are absolutely tragic and bring to the surface the deeply worrying problems within mental health services in Scotland.
“It is simply scandalous that no psychiatric beds were available in the country’s fourth-largest city. The live independent inquiry into mental health services at NHS Tayside must deliver the reforms needed to restore public confidence in the health board.”
Conservative mental health spokeswoman Annie Wells also hit out at the fact Reid had to be taken to Aberdeen to seek treatment.
She said: “It’s bad enough that there was no capacity to keep him in one of Scotland’s major cities, but that he was able to walk free from another unit in this way just compounds the series of failings.”
Reid was acquitted of murder at the High Court in Livingston after the prosecution accepted he was “not criminally responsible for his actions by reason of mental disorder”.
Advocate depute Graeme Jessop said it is considered unlikely the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit will have criticisms of the actions taken by NHS Grampian in relation to his discharge from their care.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Mental health is a priority for this government and we expect all boards to provide the quality services patients require.”