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Labour renews call for public inquiry into NHS Tayside mental health services

Ministers have been accused by party leader Richard Leonard of staying silent on the issue.

Scottish Labour has renewed calls for a public inquiry into mental health services at NHS Tayside, accusing the government of silence over the issue.

Party leader Richard Leonard raised the case of David Ramsay, who took his life in 2016 at the age of 50, during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood.

Mr Ramsay killed himself four days after he was twice rejected for treatment at the Carseview psychiatric unit at Ninewells in Dundee.

His family has been campaigning for a public inquiry into services at NHS Tayside and were present in the Holyrood chamber.

Mr Leonard highlighted that Scotland’s suicide rate is more than twice as high as the rate for Britain as a whole while in Dundee suicide rates have increased by 61% in a year.

He said: “Tragically, David’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.

“First Minister, why has your government remained silent on this crisis and silent on this demand for a public inquiry?”

He said Mr Ramsay’s father David and niece Gillian Murray had come to Edinburgh “because this government has ignored them”.

He added: “This is yet another family failed by your government.

“So, First Minister, how many more families must be failed? How many families need to suffer before you finally recognise that now is the time for change?”

Ms Sturgeon said her “deep condolences” went out to Mr Ramsay’s family and that the government had been in contact with them.

She said that while one suicide was one too many, a five-year rolling average showed suicides on a downward trend in Scotland.

On Carseview, she said: “I don’t think it is right or fair to say that the government has remained silent.”

Ms Sturgeon said Health Secretary Shona Robison had visited the unit and the Mental Welfare Commission had carried out an unannounced inspection in March and made a number of recommendations.

She said: “Let me be very clear … that we expect NHS Tayside to fully respond to those recommendations within three months and they have also, as I understand it, been shared with Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

“We will pay very close attention to NHS Tayside’s response and if there is further action that we consider is required, then that action will be taken.”

The First Minister said it was “simply not the case” that no action was being taken, adding that the government’s forthcoming suicide prevention strategy would ensure that the best facilities were in place for those who need help.

On the individual case, she said it would be up to the law officers to order a fatal accident inquiry.

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