Chief hopes in­quiry leads to im­proved ser­vices in Tay­side area

Pub­lic cam­paign by fam­i­lies led to in­quiry into poor care claims

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - NEWS - STE­FAN MORKIS smorkis@the­

An in­de­pen­dent in­quiry into men­tal health ser­vices in Tay­side could lead to im­prove­ments across Scot­land.

David Strang, the in­quiry’s chair­man, launched the pub­lic call for ev­i­dence to the in­quiry in Dundee yes­ter­day.

The in­quiry was launched af­ter a pub­lic cam­paign by fam­i­lies who blamed poor care at the Car­se­view Psy­chi­atric Cen­tre at Ninewells Hos­pi­tal for a se­ries of sui­cides.

Mr Strang, a for­mer HM chief in­spec­tor of pris­ons, said he wants to hear about pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences of men­tal health ser­vices.

He said: “This is an im­por­tant mile­stone to­day for the in­de­pen­dent in­quiry. I want to hear from peo­ple who have ex­pe­ri­ence of men­tal health ser­vices in Tay­side. That might be some­one who has been, or still is a pa­tient, fam­ily mem­bers or car­ers and other or­gan­i­sa­tions, third sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions and char­i­ties, that sup­port peo­ple in Tay­side.”

Mr Strang said he would re­spect the “con­fi­den­tial­ity” of any NHS Tay­side em­ploy­ees who come for­ward.

He said: “I’m also keen to hear from mem­bers of staff from NHS Tay­side if they want to tell me about their ex­pe­ri­ences of men­tal health ser­vices in Tay­side.

“What I would say is I will re­spect he con­fi­den­tial­ity of what they say. My pref­er­ence would be that peo­ple, when they sub­mit ev­i­dence, would say who they are be­cause that is help­ful but clearly, if peo­ple want to sub­mit wholly anony­mous ev­i­dence they will be able to do that.”

Mr Strang added: “I am ex­pect­ing to hear about ex­pe­ri­ences that have been good as well as ex­pe­ri­ences that have, per­haps, been poor.

“What I’m hop­ing for from this in­quiry is that it will lead to im­prove­ments in men­tal health ser­vice in Tay­side and po­ten­tially across Scot­land.

“I am sure I will identify ar­eas of good prac­tice. It is im­por­tant to recog­nise where things are work­ing as well as to identify ar­eas that need im­prove­ment.

“But my fo­cus will be about how we im­prove ser­vices.

“We will look in de­tail at all the men­tal health ser­vices in Tay­side. We’ll do com­par­isons with other ar­eas, not just in Scot­land but out­with.

“I have a clin­i­cal ad­viser to the in­quiry who is a psy­chi­a­trist from out­with Tay­side and I am based at the univer­sity so am quite in­de­pen­dent. The sec­re­tariat for the in­quiry is pro­vided by the univer­sity so we will be tak­ing an ob­jec­tive and in­de­pen­dent look at men­tal health ser­vices.”

Mr Strang said both the stake­holder par­tic­i­pa­tion group, made up of pa­tients, their rel­a­tives and car­ers, and an NHS Tay­side em­ployee par­tic­i­pa­tion group will help to shape the di­rec­tion of the in­quiry.

Sub­mis­sions should be made to the in­quiry by Oc­to­ber 19 but Mr Strang said it is im­pos­si­ble to say how long the in­quiry will take to con­clude.

He said: “We will an­a­lyse the sub­mis­sions that will then in­form the fu­ture di­rec­tion of the in­quiry. I think that will high­light some key is­sues that show clearly ar­eas we need to look at.

“It will take as long as it takes. There is a balance be­tween be­ing com­pre­hen­sive and not tak­ing too long.

“I will want to ex­am­ine the key is­sues and then put for­ward con­clu­sions and rec­om­men­da­tions.

“There was a de­bate in par­lia­ment on May 9 this year when there were con­cerns ex­pressed about men­tal health ser­vices in Tay­side and the re­sult of that de­bate was there is cross party sup­port for an in­de­pen­dent in­quiry. There is an ap­petite for im­prove­ment.

“Cer­tainly I’ve had very pos­i­tive mes­sages from NHS Tay­side that they will co­op­er­ate with the in­quiry and look for­ward to its con­clu­sions.”

Ev­i­dence can be sub­mit­ted by email­ing in­de­pen­dentin­ or by writ­ing to In­de­pen­dent In­quiry, 15/16 Spring­field, Dundee, DD1 4JE.

Ap­point­ments will be avail­able in Oc­to­ber for any­one who wants to sub­mit ev­i­dence orally.

I am ex­pect­ing to hear about ex­pe­ri­ences that have been good as well as ex­pe­ri­ences that have, per­haps, been poor. DAVID STRANG

Pic­tures: Kris Miller/Kim Cess­ford.

Top: David Strang, chair­man of the in­de­pen­dent in­quiry into men­tal health ser­vices in Tay­side.

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