Answers also wanted on neo-natal unit

John Pentland MSP joined Usdaw activists in Holyrood to promote mental health awareness.
John Pentland MSP joined Usdaw activists in Holyrood to promote mental health awareness.

MSP John Pentland has welcomed a ruling ordering the release documents relating to a new mental health services unit at Wishaw General.

Mr Pentland is unhappy that a plan to base a unit at Wishaw General rather than Monklands Hospital was ditched when Alex Neil, whose constituency includes Monklands, took over as health secretary.

Earlier this year, following a request from Mr Pentland under the Freedom of Information Act, some of the information he requested was withheld on the grounds that it was exempt.

However Mr Pentland appealed to the Freedom of Information Commissioner who has now ruled that disclosure of the documents he wants divulged is in the public interest.

Mr Pentland, who recently joined Usdaw activists to spotlight the union’s campaign to promote mental health, wants to know why there was a u-turn on the policy previously backed by deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

He said: “As a constituency MSP Alex Neil had previously objected to the proposed Lanarkshire mental health plan, but as the Cabinet Secretary he should make decisions in the interests of Lanarkshire and Scotland as a whole.

“Despite the conflict of interest being highlighted, and the Cabinet Secretary saying that he would not be involved in decisions on the plan, the health board’s preferred plan was still shelved and replaced with one along lines previously judged as inferior.

“There is a public interest argument for publishing documents relevant to why that happened, and the Information Commissioner has clearly accepted that. When the withheld documents are eventually released, we will hopefully find out why the Scottish Government has fought so hard to avoid disclosure of their contents.”