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Influencing & challenging

We are often described as a mental health 'watchdog'.

It is true that we look into situations where something has gone wrong in mental health and learning disability services, but we also work to improve policy to help safeguard people and prevent things going wrong.

In our watchdog role, we draw attention to mistakes and ask people to learn from them. In our 'guide dog' role, we use our unique overview of mental health and learning disability services to help Scottish Ministers and service managers shape policy. This way we aim to help develop services that safeguard rights, and improve care and treatment for people with mental illness, learning disability, dementia and related conditions.

We have a unique overview of mental health and learning disability services in Scotland. Our monitoring work and our visiting programme give us an insight not only into how government legislation is being used, but how that impacts on individual rights and effective care and treatment. We share the information we develop with government, calling for changes in national policy and legislation where we think these are required. We have representation on the Scottish Parliament's Mental Health Cross Party Group and Learning disability Cross Party Group.

We hold annual meetings with senior executives of health boards and local authorities. At these meetings we can highlight service policy issues that we believe ought to be addressed. We ask services what they have done in response to recommendations from visits to services in their area. We also ask what they have done to act on any relevant recommendations and learning points from our investigations into care and treatment.

When we have concerns about an individual's care and treatment we report these to the people most directly responsible and ask them to take any action required. If we do not get a response, we will escalate this request further up the management level. Where an issue is very serious, and is not resolved by the services involved, we can escalate our concerns right up to Scottish Ministers.

We will publicy report, within the agreed timescales, the outcome of the recommendations we make to services in 90% of cases