skip to main content

Independent Inquiry into Mental Health Services in Tayside update

There is an independent inquiry underway into Mental Health Services in Tayside. The inquiry was established following a debate in Scottish Parliament around the prevalence of suicide in Tayside. The bereaved families worked hard to secure a parliamentary debate, which established a lack of confidence in mental health services available in Tayside and the fundamental need for an independent inquiry. David Strang has been selected to chair the independent inquiry.

There have been a number of reviews into specific mental health services within Tayside, including the recent Mental Welfare Commission Report on an unannounced visit to Carseview. This investigation came after a 2014 review of the unit by Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS). This review also examined the wider provision for mental health across NHS Tayside, which revealed many concerns. HIS detailed a number of recommendations as a result of this review, including examining the management of beds across different sites, the role of the crisis team and the process of responding to, and learning from ‘adverse events’.

The independent inquiry has a broader scope than previous reviews and investigations. There is a specific focus on looking at ‘end-to-end’ services, meaning that it wants to hear about the experiences in accessing the service, availability of alternative services and the journey of support after leaving those services rather than just about a particular service.

There have been two third sector round table meetings held in the run up to the inquiry going live, facilitated by the Alliance. Initially the focus of the inquiry was on General Adult Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and Suicide Prevention Services. While it is important to look at these services, third sector workers pushed to widen the inquiry to be inclusive of other mental health services, including Psychiatry of Old Age and the Learning Disability Service.

A key part of the inquiry is to hear from people with experience of Tayside Mental Health Services. These experiences will help form the direction of the inquiry and contribute to narrative around services.

Personal testimony, stories and experiences are essential in getting the person centred, end-to-end perspectives of mental health services that is vital to this inquiry. These experiences will help to build a narrative that can guide the focus of the inquiry; they will help contextualise reports and statistics and help develop recommendations for improvement.

There are two ways that people can feed into the inquiry. The open call for evidence, which aims to hear from as many people as possible including individuals, families, staff, community groups and organisations.  The public call for evidence opened up on the 5th September and will be taking evidence for 6 weeks from this date. Information on how to contribute can be found on the inquiry website:

There is also a forward-looking element to the inquiry that wants to explore how the situation in Tayside can be improved. The views of people with experience of services is essential in this. Lynsey McCallum is taking a leading role on the independent inquiry within Dundee Voluntary Action. Lynsey has been engaging people in the conversation around the challenges facing someone trying to access mental health support including what needs to change, what is working, what services are valued and what kind of support is missing? All the views gathered will be fed into the Independent Inquiry.

If you run an organisation with a mental health focus and would like to talk to Lynsey about holding a focus group within your organisation or community group, you can make an enquiry:          01382 305743

Alternatively, you can contact Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland for facilitator packs and hold conversations or focus groups within your own organisation.   0141 404 0231

If you wish to get in touch to talk about the call for evidence, then please contact:     01382 381835