Scotland - referendum fallout and serious incidents

From the AGM and Scientific Meeting of DCP-Scotland.

The AGM and Scientific Meeting of DCP-Scotland on 7 November was chaired by Dr Ruth Stocks, Chair of DCP-S and featured two well-known speakers: Professor John Curtice, University of Strathclyde, and Dr Lisa Reynolds, Lead of Trauma Services, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Professor Curtice’s presentation ‘After the referendum’ could scarcely have been more topical: a review of the outcome, demographics, motivations and fallout of the Scottish independence referendum. On outcome, Professor Curtice emphasised the unprecedented voter turnout of 84.5 per cent. In his consideration of demographics, he highlighted both the significant gaps in basic voting variables such as gender, age, social class and birthplace cohorts, and also the more elusive features of Scottish/British identity; how YES never won the economic debate; and how Indy was perceived as an overall risk leading to uncertainty. Professor Curtice’s concluding overview on ‘the referendum fallout’ suggested that the referendum has resulted in a country that is apparently keener than ever on having a substantial degree of autonomy – but perhaps has yet to embrace the possible consequences.

The presentation by Dr Lisa Reynolds gave a vivid and detailed account of the November 2013 Clutha helicopter major incident in Glasgow, in which 10 people died, including three of the helicopter crew. and in which many survivors had described being ‘trapped’ or ‘buried under rubble’. This clearly remained fresh in the minds of AGM attenders. Dr Reynolds then highlighted the Guiding Principles of Psychological First Aid and discussed the ‘stepped care’ model recommended. The salient features of this are that the majority of people involved in serious incidents usually respond with great resilience and, despite temporary distress, do not require the support of mental health services; that awareness of the range of people likely to be impacted upon by the incident is vital (e.g. those directly involved, emergency response services, family members and witnesses); and that specific formal interventions (e.g. individual face-to-face debriefing sessions) have not been shown to be effective and may actually cause increased psychological harm.

Dr Kirsty Anderson, Chartered Psychologist
University of Edinburgh/NHS Lothian

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber