Emotional moment for the Dundee family as FM challenges the care of her son

The Dundee family have spoken of the emotional moment their son’s “extremely disturbing” caregiving arose in Holyrood as Nicola Sturgeon was challenged to mental health services under pressure in Tayside.

The first minister pledged to look into the case of 19-year-old Ryan Caswell, whose treatment she said “seems unacceptable to me”.

We revealed on Thursday that his parents, Paul and Erin Caswell, were left fearing for his life after enduring months of what they described as “unnecessary chronic pain” at a mental health unit in Dundee.

Ryan Caswell with Abby Paul.

Police confirmed they were investigating allegations of physical assault on Ryan at the facility last month.

His parents allege he was drugged and sometimes tied up instead of receiving proper medical treatment.

“When will you change?”

Michael Mara at North East MSP has written to the Mental Health Services Supervision Group in Tayside calling for their concerns to be investigated “as a matter of urgency.”

He also raised Ryan’s case during Thursday’s prime minister’s question session.

Mr. Mara said: “Consultant Ryan Caswell has been a resident patient at Carsview Mental Health Unit in Dundee for two years and three months as a result of a delayed discharge.

Ryan has autism spectrum disorder and learning difficulties.

Michael Mara.

Ryan’s parents are concerned about the lack of proper medical care for their son. They fear for his life.

“Ryan is struggling to communicate. For most of the past year he has been screaming in excruciating pain, which only restrained and soothed him.”

Mr Mara said the staff provided to Ryan “do not have sufficient medical training to diagnose patients in their care”.

“The most disturbing report in public life”

A damning review of Tayside’s mental health services in 2020, led by former police chief David Strang, called for a “fundamental redesign” after years of failure.

Mr Mara said the update, which last year denied claims that the problems had been addressed in just 13 months, described him as “the most disturbing report in Scottish public life”.

“This has gone on for years as people suffer and people die,” said Mr. Mara.

“Prime Minister, when will he change?”

Prime Minister Nicolas Sturgeon.
Prime Minister Nicolas Sturgeon.

Nicola Sturgeon said she was not familiar with the details of Ryan’s case but what was described as “seems unacceptable to me”.

“I think it’s only fair to Ryan, and his parents, who are understandably anxious and sad, that I want to dig deeper into that,” Sturgeon said.

“When I have the opportunity to do so, I – or the Secretary of Health – will respond in more detail to the member.”

Dad praises response of ‘encouragement’

Speaking later, Ryan’s father, Paul, said: “We know it’s hard for anyone to get involved, so it was encouraging to hear that the Chief Minister has taken an interest in him personally and will find out more.

“I think it resonated with everyone in the room.

Erin Caswell with Ryan.

“You can hear the applause after Michael spoke so I think a lot of people understand that it’s a situation that can’t be sustained.

“I think they were able to identify with that, so we were really happy that he got the reception he got, the attention he got.”

NHS Tayside says the team looking after Ryan “is in regular direct contact with the family, and their concerns are independently addressed and investigated”.

The Dundee couple say they fear for their son’s life because of the treatment at Carseview

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[Emotional moment for Dundee family as FM challenged on son’s care]


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