Families of suicide victims say they are willing to put their faith in NHS Tayside for the first time following a heartfelt apology from health chiefs.
Tayside health boss Grant Archibald made what he called a “heartfelt apology” following the damning final report of the Independent Inquiry into Mental Health Services in Tayside published earlier this month.
The report, authored by former prisons boss Dr David Strang, issued dozens of recommendations which the board has promised to follow.
A detailed action plan is being compiled by health chiefs between now and June, with monthly updates on its progress promised.
Mr Archibald told the Ninewells meeting yesterday (Thursday): “I knew when I came here this was outstanding and knew we were going to have a very, very challenging report to deal with and a challenge of how we change ourselves.
“I’d like to apologise to anyone whose experience in recent years has been less than could be reasonably expected.
“It’s a personal apology on behalf of me and my executive team.
“It’s essential we understand that people’s experiences fell way short of what you should have expected of us.
“We need to be courageous enough to embrace these stories to learn from them.”
Mandy McLaren, whose son Dale Thomson died in 2015, attended the meeting to hear Mr Archibald’s apology in person.
Immediately thereafter, she said: “It feels good, for the first time in a long time.
“What still gets me is that all this could have been avoided, and that needs to change.
“I liked what he said, but they have to follow through. But I’m going to give them a chance.
“Grant Archibald came and faced us, which is something none of the others have done before.
“I’m putting a bit of faith in him (Mr Archibald). I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”
Gillian Murray, who lost her uncle David Ramsay in 2016, said: “I would like to say a genuine thank you for showing us compassion.
“It has been a first in my dealings with NHS Tayside regarding the failings in mental health services that we have been treated with some humanity.
“That is all we ever asked for: to be listened to, to be respected and for actions to be implemented.
“Obviously, actions speak louder than words so I will be keeping a beady eye to ensure the promises are kept but I am grateful that instead of the usual excuses, he has apologised.”
Ahead of publishing its action plan in June, NHS Tayside has vowed to “listen and learn” to patients, families and carers as it reshapes mental health services.
In addition, it has recruited experts from the NHS board in Lanarkshire, who have just overseen a redesign of mental health services, to provide further guidance.
Jenny Alexander, employee director at NHS Tayside, restated her calls from earlier this week to ensure staff are included in any discussions.
“I totally agree with this report…it’s a hard report to read but we shouldn’t be surprised,” she said.
“It would be beneficial to staff, to carers, to know what this means for mental health services.”