HIGHLAND Council has called for crisis talks with the NHS after learning people suffering from mental ill-health have been turned away for treatment.
Inverness Central councillor Richard Laird claims he knows two people who have tried to kill themselves on numerous occasions, but can still not get the help they need.
He says one man attempted suicide six times in two months but was repeatedly discharged from Inverness’s Raigmore Hospital and New Craigs Psychiatric Hospital.
At a full council meeting, Councillor Laird told his colleagues the man was once found wandering on a railway line just hours after being let out of hospital.
He also spoke of a young woman who was admitted to hospital for self-harm and attempted suicide 13 times in two years, before throwing herself off the Greig Street bridge into the River Ness. She was saved.
This comes as the adult admission bed complement at New Craigs hospital was reduced from 54 to 48 last month because of insufficient staff to look after patients and has remained that way following a review by NHS Highland last week.
Cllr Laird said: “This is how the NHS at the moment is treating some of our people with mental health illnesses – I simply don’t think it’s acceptable.”
Cllr Laird also told of his own poor experiences when he sought treatment for depression last year.
“Last year I was referred to my GP at the insistence of my colleagues because they were concerned for my welfare and I was diagnosed with depression,” he said.
“They discharged me but earlier this year I was re-referred and was getting the treatment I need.
“Ultimately, all I want is for the health sector to recognise physical illness and mental illness with the same esteem.”
Cllr Laird’s speech was met with applause from councillors who unanimously agreed to support his motion calling for a meeting between councillors, NHS Highland, mental health support groups and Highland User Group (HUG).
An NHS Highland spokesman said it did not comment on individual cases and would welcome the opportunity to discuss concerns with Councillor Laird.
“We would emphasise that no adult patient from Highland assessed as requiring in-patient care has been declined admission to New Craigs due to staffing pressures,” he said.
“The restriction is in place to patients in other health board areas to enable us to prioritise local patients.”