Scotland politics

Families will have voice in mental health inquiry says minister

families
Image caption Campaigning families of people who took their own lives were in the public gallery for the debate at Holyrood

Scotland's health secretary said she understood why the families of suicide victims wanted answers over the lack of mental health support.

Shona Robison was speaking ahead of a Holyrood debate calling for a public inquiry into mental health services in NHS Tayside.

An independent probe has been ordered into the Carseview Centre in Dundee, but families say that is not enough.

Mr Robison insisted the views of families would be heard.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, she said: "I have met with families in Dundee and indeed elsewhere who have lost loved ones to suicide and they want answers, and if those answers can be given then this inquiry should seek to do that."

The minister also said that the inquiry, announced by the new chairman of NHS Tayside John Brown "should seek to look at where services need to be improved" at not only Carseview but the whole of the area.

Image caption Mr Ramsay's family say his death could have been prevented if the psychiatric unit had given him help when he asked for it

The spotlight fell on mental health services in Tayside after the case of David Ramsay was raised at First Minister's Questions last week.

The 50-year-old took his own life in 2016 after twice being turned away from the Carseview unit in Dundee.

His niece Gillian Murray is now campaigning for improvements to the system, alongside other bereaved families.

At Holyrood on Wednesday, Ms Murray reiterated her call for a "full, independent and impartial public inquiry".

Suicide in Tayside

What are the key numbers?

23

Dundee deaths in 2015

37

Dundee deaths in 2016

  • 8% Dundee deaths down over 10 years

  • 17% Scotland deaths down over 10 years

SPL

MSPs debated the issue on Wednesday afternoon, with Labour's health spokesman Anas Sarwar tabling a motion urging the government to instigate a public inquiry.

However, he welcomed an amendment from Ms Robison - herself a Dundee MSP - promising that the existing probe would cover the whole region and would be escalated if it were "hindered" in any way.

Mr Sarwar said: "It shouldn't take raising these issues in this parliament to get action.

"So I hope that means after their three-year struggle, today our parliament can unite in solidarity with the families' campaign, demonstrating to them that we have listened and we have acted."

The Scottish Conservatives also backed "a wider independent inquiry across the region".

The party's health spokesman Miles Briggs said this approach "would allow for these concerns to be investigated comprehensively in order to restore faith in these services among patients and their relatives and friends".

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