LISTEN – Experiences of NHS Tayside Mental Health Services

A new report says confidence in NHS Tayside’s mental health services is low, and health service managers must listen and act on the views of patients and their own staff. More positively, there was praise for highly skilled and compassionate professionals working in the service.

Four hundred and three people who use mental health services responded to a survey conducted by four Tayside based agencies. The results are published in “LISTEN – Experiences of NHS Tayside Mental Health Services.”

The lead author of the report, Rachel Lawrence, said, “We are deeply grateful to the people who answered our survey for their bravery and candour. Reading their personal stories has been a very sobering experience. We are determined to ensure that their voices will help shape the future of the service they rely on.”

The survey asked, “How confident are you in NHS Tayside looking after your mental health if required?” Only 14% said “highly confident”, 28% said fairly confident and 58% said “not confident”. Confidence levels were highest in Dundee and lowest in Angus.

The survey team compared results from a similar survey conducted by PLUS Perth in 2017 against the answers gathered in 2021.

The percentage of respondents describing Tayside’s mental health services as excellent, very good or good fell from 58% to 36% over the four-year period.

Due to the heavy reliance of the service on locums, fewer patients were able to see the same psychiatrist for three consecutive appointments. This figure fell from 73% of respondents to 43%, with patients having to repeat their case histories and losing trust and confidence in their care.

Rachel Lawrence added: “There were some very encouraging findings too. Many respondents praised highly skilled and compassionate individuals and teams within the service, including individual Doctors, Community Psychiatric Nurses and the Intensive Home Treatment Team.

The survey was conducted by PLUS Perth, Dundee Healthy Minds Network, Angus Voice and the Stakeholder Participation Group.

Lynsey McCallum of Dundee Healthy Minds Network said, “Our most important recommendation is that NHS Tayside must listen better to the lived experience of service users, and act to address the issues they raise.”

Alan Cotter of PLUS Perth said. “This collaborative work represents an important opportunity to develop a more robust and patient centric Mental Health Service across Tayside, and one that takes full account of the recommendations of ‘Trust and Respect’, the Independent Inquiry final report.”

Colin McMillan, chair of Angus Voice said, “As Chair of Angus Voice, I would like to say that the survey and results compiled give an important gauge of how service users view the treatment they received from NHS Tayside Mental Health Services”.

Susan Scott, Manager at PLUS said “Much of the work on this report was done by unpaid volunteers who have worked diligently to represent the views of mental health service users. We could not have produced this report without them.”

David Strang and Denise Jackson, the Independent Inquiry Review team, had early access to the survey data and findings. Denise said, “I would like to commend the survey team on the quality of their analytical work and report writing – it is very professional indeed. We were very grateful to have access to all their work when we were producing our Progress Report in July”.

Service User Survey Report

Summary of Key Findings

Large Print Executive Summary

Audio of Executive Summary

The Inquiry Review Progress Report is available at

Printed copies can be requested and questions about the report should be addressed to

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