More than 5,000 young people in Scotland have been denied mental health treatment during the wait for a national probe into rejected applications.
Nicola Sturgeon was challenged repeatedly at First Minister’s Questions on her government’s progress in tackling mental health issues.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the SNP administration has let down vulnerable children by taking more than a year to complete an investigation into why so many youngsters are not getting the treatment they seek.
In Tayside and Fife alone, 816 young people have been knocked back by Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services since last March, when the government promised to launch the review.
Labour’s analysis of the Scottish Government figures showed the national figure was 5,410.
“Nicola Sturgeon once claimed she had a sacred responsibility to make sure every young person gets the same chance to succeed,” Mr Leonard said.
“She has abdicated that responsibility to some of the most vulnerable children in Scotland.”
Ms Sturgeon said the results would be published on June 12, adding there are legitimate reasons why children are not offered CAMHS treatment.
“We announced an audit, we had to plan how that audit was going to happen so that we get it right,” she said.
“The work is now underway and I’ve given the progress report on that.
“It’s important that we get that work right in order that the action that flows from it are the right actions.”
She added that the 2017/18 budget for mental health exceeded £1 billion for the first time, while the CAMHS workforce has increased by 65%.
Meanwhile, Jenny Marra, the Labour MSP, asked what progress had been made towards setting up an emergency mental health unit in Dundee that provides 24-hour support.
Scottish Labour is renewing calls for a public inquiry into mental health services in NHS Tayside.
At First Minister’s Questions this week, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard quoted comments by the Samaritans that suggested the Scottish Government was not taking suicide seriously enough, following research by the charity that found 61 per cent of Scots have been affected by suicide.
Leonard also raised the case of 50-year-old David Ramsay, who took his own life in 2016.
Ramsay killed himself after being twice rejected for treatment by the Carseview Centre at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, despite having made three suicide attempts in the space of a week.
Leonard said: “As the First Minister will know, Scotland’s suicide rate is more than twice the rate for Britain as a whole, and that in Dundee the suicide rate has increased by 61 per cent in a year.
“Behind those statistics are real people and real families who have lost loved ones, including the family of David Ramsay.”
He added: Tragically, David Ramsay’s story and the experience of his family is not unique in Dundee, so when I was in Dundee in March I backed the call by families for a public inquiry into mental health services at NHS Tayside.
“Why has the First Minister’s Government remained silent on this crisis and silent on that demand for a public inquiry?”
However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon defended the Scottish Government’s record.
She said: “Richard Leonard has raised issues about the Carseview centre in NHS Tayside.
“It is not right or fair to say that the Government has ‘remained silent’.
“I know that the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport has visited Carseview on a number of occasions.
“I understand that the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland carried out an unannounced inspection of Carseview in March, and made a number of recommendations.
“Let me make it very clear today, as the health secretary and the mental health minister have already done, that we expect NHS Tayside to respond fully to the recommendations within three months.
“The recommendations have also, I understand, been shared with Healthcare Improvement Scotland.
“We will pay very close attention to NHS Tayside’s response, and if we consider that further action is required, that action will be taken.”
The Scottish Government has recently consulted on a draft suicide prevention action plan, with the final version, taking account of feedback, expected to be published in the summer.
Tayside health chiefs say their focus is on treating mental health patients at home – despite calls for improved hospital provision in Dundee.
The family of David Ramsay, who killed himself in October 2016 after he was reportedly rejected for treatment at psychiatric unit Carseview, have led calls for a facility similar to the now-closed Liff Hospital to be opened for those fighting mental health issues.
They have also campaigned to have a public inquiry launched in to the suicides of several people who have come in to contact with the centre.
The topic was brought up in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, when Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard called for the inquiry.
He asked the First Minister: “Why has your government remained silent on this crisis and on this demand for a public inquiry?”
Nicola Sturgeon, sending her condolences to Mr Ramsay’s family, said it was “not fair or right” to say the government had been silent.
She said her administration would “pay very close attention” to NHS Tayside’s response to recommendations made by the Mental Welfare Commission, following an unannounced inspection in March.
Now, Robert Packham – chief officer for Perth & Kinross Health And Social Care Partnership, which runs adult mental health services across the area – appears to have ruled out the creation of a new facility.
He said only six out of every 100 mental health patients needed hospital treatment, adding: “We have been redesigning mental health services to adapt to the changing needs of our population and new services have been introduced to manage people in crisis and support people to remain at home.
“Healthcare is changing rapidly, with a greater focus on recovery and improved mental wellbeing.
“Specialist hospital services will always be needed for those who are most unwell and, when people are in hospital, they should receive the highest possible quality of care in buildings which are fit for the delivery of modern healthcare.
“It is important to remember that most people with a mental health problem are treated at home or in the community. When it is no longer possible to do this safely, a patient will be admitted to hospital.”
NHS bosses have ordered an independent inquiry into a psychiatric unit following the case of a man who killed himself after being refused admission.
David Ramsay, 50, took his own life in 2016 just days after twice being sent home from the Carseview centre at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.
Nicola Sturgeon was questioned by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard over the case at Holyrood on Thursday.
NHS Tayside has now announced the care provided by Carseview will be reviewed.
Mr Ramsay’s family has been campaigning for a full public inquiry into mental health provision in NHS Tayside, with his niece Gillian Murray calling for Health Secretary Shona Robison – a Dundee MSP – to stand down.
NHS Tayside chairman John Brown said the “independent assurance report” would examine “how services are delivered at Carseview to address the concerns of some families who have been speaking out about their experiences of mental health services at the centre.”
The health board will take advice from the Mental Welfare Commission on which experts should be tasked with carrying out the work.
As part of the review, they will speak to patients at the centre and their families.
Mr Brown added: “If the report highlights any areas for improvement, or flags up issues where we can learn lessons, we will make any changes required immediately.”
Separately, Public Health Minister Maureen Watt has written to Ms Murray to offer her “sincerest apologies” for the way some of the correspondence between her and the Scottish government had been handled.
Ms Watt said a response she had sent to Ms Murray in April was sent to a mistyped email address – meaning Ms Murray did not receive it.
Ms Murray – a former SNP member who said she had left the party over its “failure” to help with her uncle’s case – has also been invited to meet Ms Watt, Ms Robison or the first minister “at a time and date of Ms Murray’s convenience.”
Responding to the announcement of the review, Ms Murray tweeted that it was a “welcome first step but certainly not the end of the road” and said the family would continue to demand a full public inquiry into mental health services in Tayside.
Speaking on Thursday, she had accused the Scottish government of ignoring the family’s concerns – which was strongly denied by the first minister.
And she said her uncle had “needed that little bit of help” but had been “turned away”, with the hospital “passing the buck to the family”.
Ms Murray added: “It could happen to anyone – it could be me or you who needs that little bit of help, and he was turned away.
“I was having to Google how to look after a suicidal individual, how to look after somebody with psychosis. That shouldn’t have been left to us.”
She also said resigning would be the “honourable thing” for Ms Robison to do.
Mr Leonard also welcomed the inquiry, but added: “The reality is that it should not have taken years of campaigning by bereaved families – and a tragedy being raised at first minister’s questions – to deliver this limited review.
“Scrutiny should be an essential part of how our public services are run – but instead bosses at NHS Tayside and Shona Robison have attempted to evade accountability at all costs.”
Who was David Ramsay?
Mr Ramsay made three separate attempts at suicide in the space of a week in the autumn of 2016.
His family convinced him to seek urgent help from his GP, who referred him to Carseview because he “required admission”.
Mr Ramsay had two emergency assessments, but was turned away from the centre on both occasions.
His niece told BBC Scotland there had been a catalogue of failures over the handling of her uncle’s case in the days before he killed himself.
She said Mr Ramsay’s death had been preventable as he had told staff “in no uncertain terms” and on separate occasions that he did not want to live and needed help.
What has the health secretary said?
In a statement, Ms Robison welcomed the review, saying that: “People who need mental health services, and their families, should have full confidence that they will receive the highest standards of care when they or their loved ones are in a very vulnerable condition”.
She had earlier tweeted that Ms Murray and her family “have every right to raise their concerns and shouldn’t be criticised for doing so”.
Ms Robison added: “The voices of patients and their families are hugely important in our health service”.
The Scottish Labour leader has backed calls for a public inquiry into a Dundee psychiatric unit.
The city as a whole has suffered the biggest rise in suicides in Scotland, with a 61% surge in a year, according to official figures.
The Scottish Government released its suicide prevention draft strategy on Thursday, which proposes workplaces do more to help stop the tragedies.
Richard Leonard threw his weight behind the Lost Souls of Dundee group, which is demanding answers over the deaths of their loved ones.
In a column for The Courier, the Labour chief said fighting the increasing “human tragedy” in the city had “fallen to brave women such as Mandy McLaren”, a bereaved mother.
And he said Carseview had “turned people away only for them to take their own lives”.
Ms McLaren’s Lost Souls of Dundee has led calls for a full inquiry into the way Carseview looks after mental health patients.
Her son Dale Thomson was admitted to the unit in January 2015 after trying to take his own life.
The 28-year-old was discharged and found dead four days later.
There were 19 suspected suicides in Dundee in 2011, compared with 23 in 2015 and 37 a year later, the National Records of Scotland figures show.
There were also rises over the five years in Perth (12 to 20) and Angus (14 to 17). Rates dropped in Fife, from 63 to 43.
Launching the Scottish Government’s mental health draft strategy Maureen Watt, the mental health minister, said while the suicide rate in Scotland has fallen over the past decade, the government “must go further”.
“As part of our proposals, we aim to produce a world-leading suicide prevention training programme for employers,” she added.