GRIEVING families have warned they are losing faith in an independent inquiry into mental health services at a troubled health board, amid claims they are being kept in the dark.

Scottish ministers launched a probe into NHS Tayside last year following calls from several families whose relatives killed themselves after seeking help.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stressed the inquiry is independent from the Government, but revealed it will report back "imminently".

Gillian Murray’s uncle David Ramsay took his life in 2016 at the age of 50, after he was twice rejected for treatment at the Carseview psychiatric unit at Ninewells in Dundee.

She said of the ongoing probe: "Nothing seems to have happened. We're not kept involved. It's definitely not been transparent."

Her concerns were raised at First Minister’s Questions by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, who called for the families affected to be shown an advance copy of the inquiry report.

Ms Sturgeon also came under pressure over mental health services from Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, who insisted one GP had stopped referring patients because waiting times are so long.

Mr Leonard said: “This inquiry was launched over a year ago and the families feel like their voices have been lost.

“They have no confidence in the upcoming report because they feel cut out from the process that was supposed to provide them with answers and ensure necessary changes are made going forward.

“The First Minister today said that the report will be considered in due course, but this misses the point.

"The inquiry established by the then Health Secretary was supposed to have the families at the heart of it, but they feel let down and want the First Minister to intervene.”

Ms Sturgeon said her sympathies are with the families affected.

She said: “We established an independent inquiry into mental health services across Tayside. That independent inquiry hasn’t yet reported.

“I hope it will report soon. When it does, I am sure it will be fully scrutinised by members across this chamber and the Scottish Government and the health service more generally will ensure we reflect carefully on that and learn any lessons that it says require to be learned.

“But I think it would be wrong to pre-empt the outcome of that inquiry, particularly when, as I understand it, it is due to report imminently.”

She said she understood the chair of the independent inquiry, David Strang, had met with families affected by perceived mental health failures.

She added: “It would be my full expectation in any inquiry of this nature that an advanced copy of the report would go to those directly affected.

“I will pass that specific point back to David Strang, but I would stress again – this is an independent inquiry. It’s right that the Government allows it to be conducted entirely independently.”

The NHS Tayside probe launched on September 5 with a call for evidence. Its website insists an “essential component” of this is the testimonies of patients, families and carers affected by suicide and mental illness.

Elsewhere, Mr Rennie said one in five people are waiting more than 18 weeks for mental health services – with some waiting as long as two years.

He said: “GPs, accident and emergency departments and police officers have to pick up the pieces because these patients have nowhere else to go.”

He added: “If warm word could treat people faster, the First Minister wouldn’t have thousands of people waiting for mental health services.”

Ms Sturgeon said any patient who waits too long for treatment “is entitled to feel very aggrieved about that”.

She added: “I apologise to any patient in those circumstances.”

But she said the Scottish Government is pumping £150 million into meeting waiting time targets, while also investing “significantly” to improve mental health services.

She added: “There is work still to do, but we are investing and we are pursuing the policies.”