A GROUP of health professionals have accused the BBC of “misrepresenting” Scotland’s mental health services.

There are 11 signatories to the open letter to the broadcaster, which says poor media coverage is “undermining public trust in the Scottish NHS”.

They say another consequence is that confusion on emergency mental health care can “dangerously discourage people in crisis from seeking the help they urgently require”.

READ MORE: An open letter to the BBC regarding crisis mental health services

The letter reads: “The depiction of our Scottish NHS mental health services as failing Scotland’s population is grossly distorted. It is also an insult to hard working NHS Scotland staff.

“We have a world-leading integrated public health and social care system in Scotland, that is aligned with the founding principles of the NHS and universal healthcare provision, and must be defended against any threat of privatisation and disintegration.

“The misrepresentation of emergency mental health crisis support as being subject to up to 18 weeks waiting time is dangerously undermining public trust in Scotland’s NHS and we ask the BBC to clarify this for the sake of public education and patients safety in future.”

The letter cites a discussion on BBC Scotland’s October 9 Debate Night, with one of the questions on the show being: “Suicide rates are increasing in Scotland. Is a 18 weeks referral target adequate for those experiencing mental health problems?”

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On Debate Night, LibDem MP Christine Jardine gave the example of her husband many years ago receiving the indicated crisis support on the same day as attending his GP.

She then asked what would have happened had he been forced to wait 18 weeks.

However, the group points out that the 18-weeks target time for access to psychological therapy was an entirely different issue to crisis support, with there being clinical reasons for the former figure.

This means the NHS in Scotland would not leave patients in a suicidal crisis for 18 months.

“The misrepresentation of crisis intervention as being provided only after up to

18 weeks is appalling and dangerous,” the doctors warn in their letter.

The BBC did not respond to a request for comment.